Tuesday, August 09, 2005

BLUE BIRDS OF HAPPINESS

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

One of our regular commentators here, Cosmic rays, has started her own blog, Wimpling Wings. Like myself, she was raised by a serious bird watcher. People who enjoy the company of the birds and the bees are very special people. My wonderful great godmother, Josephine Michener, was a renown bird watcher in California who started way back in the 1880s. She did one of the earliest observational studies of the California Great Condor. She also watched the birds in her wonderful yard.

Here is Cosmic ray's remininces:

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From The Bird Guide by Chester A. Reed
copyright 1906, 1909

By now you've heard of the discovery in Arkansas of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker . For bird people this is revelation in the most religious sense, regardless of theology. It's existence cannot reverse the myriad tragedies being played out in our world, but it is a living memorial to countless lost treasures of nature and a reminder to hold to the good.

There is something in us that yearns for what has been lost. In dreams we find money in the sand or a toy or doll long since forgotten. I have a recurring dream of checking a mailbox I haven't been to in a while, and it's crammed with magazines and letters and even packages from years gone by. In another dream I happen upon objects I hadn't consciously thought about since childhood in some cases, and the people in these dreams are mostly those who have gone on ahead of me. I wake up feeling more whole somehow. It's sad - because the people and things are no longer here - but it says that reunion is possible, that recovery can take place.

When I was young I spent hours and hours studying my mother's bird guides. She was a member of the Audubon Society and was the president of the local chapter for a term. (Someday I should write about her bird watching friends. One lady's name was Hedwig Dilly, and she was from England. She made the most delicious spiced tea.) I remember especially - without going back to jog my memory - the Auk's egg - huge - and a hummingbird's nest - tiny. My favorites were the painted bunting, North America's technicolor specimen, and the saw whet owl, the most adorable, cuddly, sweet looking bird. The avocet was another, and I actually saw six of them in fall migration on the beach at the mouth of the Saint Joseph River.

It breaks my heart to think that people in future generations might be denied the glorious sights I've seen, and my experiences are rather small. Someone is watching out for the Ivory Bill, though. I wish there were a sanctuary for the whole world.
Bird watchers all over the world trade information about where best to see various species like some people exchange racing tips. We are very avid about this and one reason Chris and I chose our mountain was due to the birds here. We have red tail hawks, various owls, falcons, occasional eagles, kestrels, tons of song birds and of course, the crows and vultures. Ducks and blue herons as well as the common geese. There are wild turkeys on foot. And the eternal, cheeky chickadee.

I can't imagine living where there are no birds.

They lift our souls and they work for us, eating bugs, grooming the cows, moving seeds around, replanting the forests by freeing the nuts and seeds from close proximity to the overhanging mother plants. The world would be a much more desolate place if we didn't have the lovely singing, the flash of color, the mournful songs of birds.

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