Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

Sadness of birds

I was working at home today–such a bright and beautiful day! But when I looked out the window, I saw that the nest –a scene of much activity on Sunday!– held no mother bird. A little later a large crow stood dipping his head into the nest–egg white dripping from that grim beak. Alas alas, the little family destroyed, bleak sorrow for the bird and its mate. It cast a cloud over the bright day.

Though at least my dear cat Bertie is off the hook.

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Animal Planet

Last night I thought I might watch a little entertainment–having paid the bills, done the laundry, and spent the day in (basically) healthful activities.
So, I peered about Netflix looking for shows while Bertie sat in my lap (he is such a fan!)
What do you know, just about every show these days is Dark, Violent, Sublimely Creepy, Filled with Disturbing Revelations.
This was not exactly the note I was striving for last night.
So I clicked on Planet Earth II, and watched astonishing animals as Richard Attenborough narrated. He was talking about islands, and there were crabs, birds, monkeys, lizards–this is the show that gave us that brave iguana baby fleeing his natal sands for the shore chased by HUNDREDS OF HORRIBLE SNAKES, a little clip that will make your blood run cold. Talk about sublimely creepy!
The most lovely part focussed on Bullers Albatrosses, who spend half a year alone, winging over the vast southern ocean, and then fly thousands of miles home to rejoin their dear mates and raise one precious chick in the brief summer of the islands off New Zealand. They are odd birds, presenting a strangely unreal aspect, what with their dark brows, tri-colored beaks and white bodies.

We waited with one swain, who anxiously peered about looking for his wife–and finally she appeared. He modestly held back for a moment, but then the two birds cried aloud their joy, and did their dance of happiness. It is simply lovely, and so moving–here is a clip of Layser albatrosses dancing.
Then there was the odyssey of 50 million red crabs. Colorful, very. But not quite as moving, somehow.

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This morning I stepped outside and suddenly a flock of geese swept past, calling and clamoring high up in the bright blue sky, an arrow of birds pointing north. Though I felt none of that land-girt longing to travel with them, my heart lifted at their joy and exhilaration. A fine beginning to the day!

PS In researching geese formations I came across the following:
I grew up in Virginia, and I remember asking my father why the geese flew in a “V”. He told me they only do that over Virginia and would switch to an “N” over North Carolina on their way south…

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My darling Lawrence once bought me some garments from that purveyor whose catalogues so delight all the men in the house, and somehow found himself on their list as a treasured lady customer, under the name of Lauren. He was constantly barraged with special One Time Only offers for clothing that was certainly not appropriate for him. Not that he minded. The pictures were easy on the eyes, of young women who so often appeared to have forgotten to put on anything but their underwear.

Which I was reminded of today, when I was helping a colleague with a PowerPoint presentation and noted an image on one of her slides—obviously from that same catalogue! What!!?! Well, you are to understand that while the young woman had, as usual, neglected to put on her dress, she had added full Native American regalia to her outfit–feathered bonnet, turquoise jewelery, etc. My colleague was including this as damning evidence of a ghastly prejudice against Native Americans–thoughtless, heartless behavior calculated to wound! This image, and others like it, apparently caused FLOODS of criticism on Facebook AND Twitter, leading the company to remove the offending outfits from future displays, apologizing for their heinous and callous indifference.

I cannot but think that that pious indignation about the insult to Native Americans is not what will first occur to most people upon viewing the picture, however.

Don’t you just LOVE that Native American leopard skin bikini! And the Native American Hip-Hugging Turquoise Belt! Not to mention the Native American High Heeled Sandals with Rawhide and Feather Ties!
But before you write me indignant notes about my callous behavior, let me add that I’m shocked, shocked to find underwear in an underwear catalog! With irresponsible treatment of our feathered friends!
P.S. I note that Miss Naughty Santa Claus is next in line. Apparently there was no flood of criticism about her.

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Yesterday I dashed out to pick up some peaches from the local farmer’s market—very local indeed, in that it has set up shop 5 blocks away—and was nonplussed to find the street swarming with cars, hardly anyplace to park. Aha! It turned out that it was the day for CSA (community supported agriculture), and the folks were lining up for their monthly boxes of produce. Not something I have ever gone in for, knowing full well that the delightful peaches and blackberries of summer must give way to brimming boxes of turnips and rutabaga in the fall. But however, there were the good citizens of Bethesda, swarming about picking up their boxes. The prospect of turnips does not perturb them, apparently.

Walking through such crowds of fruit buying folk imparts an agreeable—but alas, false—image of healthy eating in the country ; only some 30% of Americans eat fresh produce twice a day, and the number is dropping. Which is to not say that 70% of Americans eat nothing but burgers and fries all day, but simply that peaches and blackberries, say, are not a usual feature on their tables.

These same fruits are a particular favorite of mine, however, and I hastened to fill my basket. While in the process, I was joined by other enthusiasts—it appears that catbirds and robins are also VERY fond of fruit—and find the luscious display at the stand quite irresistible. The maidens working the cash register were quite resigned to the thieving birds, and I couldn’t help but fine them ridiculously charming—impatiently waiting for me to move on so that they could steal another taste. Though I would rather not find a mauled berry in my basket, it was hard to resent the bright eyed greedy little gourmets.


“What wondrous life is this I lead!
Ripe apples drop about my head ;
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine ;
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach ;
Stumbling on melons as I pass,
Insnared with flowers, I fall on grass.”



From The Garden, by Andrew Marvell

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The Bird’s Tale

gray_catbirdAs I walked into our driveway yesterday evening, a catbird (I think—at any rate, a medium size gray bird), rushed over, perched very close to me, and proceeded to sound off at great length—scolding, it sounded like. Very emphatic. Lawrence had seen a baby bird in the bushes that morning, with parent birds obviously distressed, but I saw no baby now (though it could have been there, hidden). She chattered on and on, very volubly and obviously meaning to convey something—what? “Your CATS ARE MONSTERS. Are you not ashamed to house such villainous creatures?” or “BE VERY AFRAID, wicked human with evil designs on my baby—my husband is on the warpath!” (her mate was skulking behind a tree but peering out from time to time). She simply wouldn’t stop. On and on and on, just like my boss when she’s enlarging on the benefits of public health policy. Finally I had to tell her that I was very sorry, but I couldn’t understand, and it was time I was moving along, and I retreated into the garage, closing the door behind me.

I have never seen a bird come so close and talk so insistently before!

This morning, we saw one of them perched on a branch above the driveway, singing the usual song, nothing special. Whatever the urgent matter was, it had passed. Perhaps it was the baby after all, and it had either been eaten or succeeded in getting to a safe place.


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