Birding connects me more deeply to Nature's intimate workings – easy to pay no mind to - the oft’ unseen and hidden world, tho’ busy busy busy with the comings and goings of
You’re humbled, or should be, as a member of a supposed paragon species – Homo saps – by birds’ infinite capacities and multifarious talents. Miracles of being, agents of highly evolved creation, adapted to every possible niche on the planet, birds are capable of performing seemingly impossible aerodynamic feats of athleticism and astounding displays of short burst and long stamina endurance. But sadly, birds are also highly vulnerable beings, stalked and maimed by feral and domestic cats, victims of illegal hunting and trade in southeast and central Europe (where songbirds are smuggled to Malta and Italy and consumed as delicacies). Birds are killed en masse in wind turbine engines, and they die painful deaths at sea and ashore from ingesting plastic detritus mistaken for food and from ingesting “vermin” poisoned by horrendously toxic rodenticides.
The more time I spend birding, the more attuned I become to my more meditative self, my more reflective being. It takes an unlearning of our normal hectic approach to life; a shedding off of our day’s mental distractions in order to focus, concentrate and attentively observe birds, but even then, as Smithsonian editor Ted Floyd writes, “to the novice, it often seems more like wizardry.” The great part about the
The real fun part about birding is you’ll never know when or where another bird will be added to your Life List of First Sightings. What bird is that that just alighted in the magnolia tree? Who, my tiny friend, are you, appearing out of nowhere for a most delightful encounter. For the life of me, I should be able to ID both of these visitors, but cannot. Turning to my field guide, I’m able to correctly conclude that the magnolia tree bird is a Mockingbird! A Mockingbird! It’s one of those inexplicable things, where you think, Oh, a Mockingbird, a common ol’ Mimus polyglottos, resident of many large U.S. cities, so you surely must have seen one of the gray, lanky and long-tailed guys before. Hasn’t everyone seen a Mockingbird? Well, I hadn’t, until now, or maybe I had, but just hadn’t noticed, like with most things in life (regarding birds!)
While on the subject of Mockingbirds, who can say why are they called Mockingbirds? Seems obvious, but my brain was stumped at first. Floyd explains: “. . .high-fidelity mimic, single birds recognizably incorporate songs of 25+ species into seemingly endless song.” And so, there you have it, the low-down on a seemingly common but heretofore largely and completely unseen “pre-adapted” species (meaning capable of expanding into varied eco-niches by adopting a survival strategy of exotic omnivorism.) The second sighting mentioned above happened to be a Ruby-crowned Kinglet! One of the smallest songbirds in North America, weighing just five to seven grams, this precious bird landed in my front garden and poked around in underbrush for several minutes before I lost sight of him. The whole time his red crown was exposed, which is awesome because it’s usually kept concealed. The adult male was so tiny and stubby, but inordinately beautiful. Seeing this rare creature, and so close-up, was like spotting a gold nugget in the creek and just leaving it there, admiring its intrinsic beauty, a precious, priceless thing to behold but not own or control or even know very well at all.
Photos belong to the WikiCommons. Thank you Universe for their usage! (Scrub Jay & Turkey Vulture soaring are the blog's author.)