Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Winter storm birds

The edges of the Chesapeake were frozen this Christmas weekend in Havre de Grace, Maryland.

Bald Eagles stood sentry.

Then the snow began to fall, and the wind began to howl, tossing the full bird feeders around like toys.

The wind whipped the snow into mini tornadoes that went skittering across the plowed cornfields, and there was a weird light to everything.

The birds, normally swarming all over the feeders, hunkered on the ground, finding little niches in the snow.

And popped out between gusts to take the seed from the ground.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Things I am grateful for today

  • The common but beautiful birds you see when you're meant to be looking at a rare bird that's been blown off course from the other side of the country, or Scotland, or Greenland, or heaven knows where.
  • The Northern Harrier standing on a post out in the field with the rare geese, the afternoon light hitting it in a way that makes you truly see the bird in a way you never have before.
  • The four billionth Tufted Titmouse that's zipped past while you're hoping to spot the Mountain Bluebird and that you give in and finally take a look at--that big liquid eye looking right back at you as it cocks it head.
  • The Chickadee sitting on a branch above the Calliope Hummingbird that should be basking in Mexico but is inexplicably in snowy shoreline Connecticut. Next to the tiny hummer the Chickadee looks like some gigantic mutant from a 1950s sci-fi movie, "Attack of the 30-foot Chickadee!"
  • The people who spot these rare visitors and put the word out so everyone can take a look.
  • And the International Bird Rescue Research Center and WildRescue. A disturbed person has captured gulls in San Francisco and put tight collars made of cut-up beer cans around their necks. The IBRRC and WildRescue are doing their best to recapture them, cut the collars from their necks, and release them. It would be easy to dwell on the dark things going through the mind of the person who has been cruel to these birds. But watching the rescuers handle a gull so gently while they remove the collar and check it over is enough to make your heart melt.