Thursday, February 11, 2016

This weekend counts for the birds

This weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count. Since it usually takes me more than 15 minutes to drink a cup of coffee, I can drink and count and, hopefully, watch the sun come up Saturday or Sunday, all the while feeling grateful I'm in the warm house doing the counting. It seems to me, based on very casual observation, that we've had fewer species showing up this Winter than we did last year. In fact, last night was the first time in a long while I've seen a Cardinal. The guy below was feeding under the front feeder, as if to show me how much I know, because he's avoiding the tray feeder I had recently filled and hung off of the deck just for Cardinals. The squirrels loved it, though.

male Cardinal under the front feeder yesterday afternoon
male Cardinal under the front feeder yesterday afternoon
Photo by J. Harrington

During our current cold snap spell, I've been spending more time on Twitter than is good for me (@JohnHthePoet). On the bright side of that, today I found a series of wonderful barn owl photos, clearly taken by someone with more talent and experience than I have. After seeing these and some of the other photos tweeted daily, I'm coming to the conclusion that there's more than enough beauty in the world (along with too much ugliness), and there are lot's of folks doing a great job showing us the beauty that's "out there" (or right under our noses). The real issue seems to be that not enough of us appreciate such beauty as the world brings to us. That's a whole different kind of issue. I used to think that if only more folks knew and could see or hear, they'd appreciate what we have. That the issue is similar to the kinds of concerns raised by Andrew Revkin in this posting on Dot Earth. Maybe much of the fault can be attributed to our species only having developed to the equivalence of adolescence. If so, may we survive long enough to out grow out of our raging hormones and underdeveloped brains.

Bird Left Behind

By Sophie Cabot Black 
As for her, the circumstances must be ordinary
And so the return. Door unlocked. The path mowed
Right to the oiled gate; the pasture

Cleared of stone and alder. All untouched
Enough to enter. The man or woman
Off down the valley or working above

Treeline. No other sound but a few strays
Hurrying through the dusk as if the end
Will begin, certain and with nothing

More to say. She does not know she does not know.
Having come back to find her kind
And none being left she took herself up

Into a tree unclear what to do next save only
Sing the song she wanted sung back to her.


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