Years ago, Alfred Hitchcock made me leery of birds while Tweedy showed me their endearing side. For a long time I ignored both messages but of late I have been developing a liking for the creatures.
I admit that at first I was only capable of distinguishing them using a most rudimentary system. There were basically six categories: large, medium and small whites ones and large, medium and small black ones. Of course, I was familiar with Chickadees, Blue jays and Cardinals in winter and Robins, Sparrows and an assortment of Orioles in the spring, but they mostly came and went throughout my formative years without my paying much attention.
As I have aged and as I have travelled, I have found diversity, complexity and simplicity more intriguing and birds have it all!
Recently I had a return visit to a friend’s home in Florida. She is blessed with a place on a bayou and all I really have to do is find a comfortable chair and watch. The world, in bird terms, just flies by over and over again.
Egrets and Ibis abound; Wood Storks fly by; Pelicans – white and brown – cruise through. Herons in all shapes and sizes come and go. And if the weather is warm and the water level low, the alligators sun on the lawn or sit with their clear eyes just at water level as the Herons practice take offs and landings and the Roseate Spoonbills swoosh their unique bills back and forth in search of food. There are daily baths to attend to and lots of preening. And in the case of the Sand Hill Cranes there is childcare to be concerned with. Two–day-old chicks have a lot to learn!
My friend has a boat and when we need a change, it’s easy to meander among the reeds to see the Blue Herons nesting in the pines or an Osprey looking down from a lofty perch.
A Red-shouldered Hawk watched as we left the channel and headed into the lake. A Black-crowned Night Heron was huddled in the brush almost camouflaged.
As the light wanes, the sky is full of Turkey Vultures and the water shines red from the setting of the sun. Birds have quite a special existance. Have you noticed?
(More birds will soon be posted at www.brendanutter.com)