Have you seen the Google doodle for today?
It is for the 226th birthday of John James Audubon. Did you know he was a fella, and not just the name of an organization? He set the bar for ornithology identification, coming on the scene at a time when birdwatchers not only used binoculars…but also guns. Bird enthusiasts would shoot their sightings, to collect and brag about later. Bye bye Ivory Billed Woodpecker.
And so, what better theme for today than to let my nerd flag fly? I love birds!
Let’s start off with some candy for your soul:
We rescued several birds when I was a kid, the most memorable of which was…wait for it…”Bird.” Bird was a Western Scrub Jay who I found “abandoned” in a park. I later found out that he was a fledgling and that I should have let him alone, since Jay parents will take care of their offspring on the ground. This does, however, leave them more susceptible to prey, so I am glad I took him home. We raised him indoors on mealy worms, with a wooden clothes drying rack as a perch. When we began to take him outside, he would hang out in our oak trees, flying down to land on our heads, unannounced, to our bemusement and to the consternation of guests. One day we let him out…and he never came back. I have always hoped that he fell in love and just forgot about us, but as my mom says, “He was too greedy for treats to not come when we called.” My heart still aches to think of it, and I am a better person for having known him. Here is a fun blog documenting another person’s adventure with a rescued jay.
Jays, like all corvids, are extremely intelligent and playful. Here is a great TED talk on the intelligence of crows. It features a crow “vending machine”.
And did you know about the playfulness of ravens?
How about the amazing (and in this scene, a little tragic) mimicking of the Lyre bird?
Being a bird nerd has a long place in history. Just ask the Egyptians and other ancient cultures.
I don’t know what this is, but I think I need it:
Ok, this has nothing to do with birds, but I was excited to hear some hopeful news AND if we save THEM we will also save the birds.
Oh wait…did you know that birds need saving? Sadly, songbirds are in rapid decline due to pesticides, housecats and climate change, among other things.
As always, Mary Oliver says it best:
and I was the song in the summer leaves, but this was
only the first trick
I had hold of among my other mythologies,
for I also knew obedience: bring sticks to the nest,
food to the young, kisses to my bride.
then I was the music of your heart, that you wanted and needed,
and thus wilderness bloomed that, with all its
followers: gardeners, lovers, people who weep
for the death of rivers.
music of the body. Do you understand? for truly the body needs
a song, a spirit, a soul. And no less, to make this work,
the soul has need of a body,
and I am both of the earth and I am of the inexplicable
beauty of heaven
where I fly so easily, so welcome, yes,
and this is why I have been sent, to teach this to your heart.”