Same job, different uniform.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Hope is the thing with feathers

When you live on the Northern Plains it's almost inevitable that you become an amateur ornithologist. I've always liked seeing wild animals (growing up it was limited mostly to roadkill), but now it's become something of a passion.

"Bird watching," when you read it as a hobby in the obituaries of old women (bless them) sounds like the very definition of living a small life. I know better. Bird watching is knowing that when the Robin appears, spring is really here.  It's recognizing the difference between the call of the Chickadee, the Northern Cardinal, the Robin, and the Blue Jay and wishing you knew the subtle differences for all the song birds.

It's standing outside a friend's door at 10 PM, necks craning, watching thousands of Snow Geese pass overhead, migrating to Canada for the summer. It's running for the camera when a huge raptor is lounging on your patio.  It's flipping through the bird book to identify the squat little bird with a distinctive beak, black feathers and a red breast (Red Breasted Grosbeak) that is nibbling on the safflower.

Now, joy of joys, our Cardinal family have built a nest not more than a yard outside our front window.  Though it's just inches from our front door, it's totally invisible from every angle except from my living room.

Naturally I'm torn between being a nature terrorist and a peaceable observer.

Just now I can spy the orange beak and arched tail feathers of little mama bird, but so far I've resisted the urge to photograph her.  When she was away (in my backyard feeding on safflower?) I snapped a couple quick photos of the nest and three tiny, speckled eggs.

Oh brave little bird!  You're as safe as you will ever be.  No beast or bird of prey will come this close to our home and as much as it's in my power, I'll protect you.

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Anonymous Joy said...

Wonderful! So much better to observe them that way than in a cage at the pet store.

Friday, May 11, 2012


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