Monday, May 4, 2009

It's Just for the Birds!

My first little budgie's name was Romeo... I barely remember him because he died when I was barely 4 years old. His death was my first experience with death and I remember tucking him into a small box and, with my dad's help, having a funeral service before we buried him in a deep hole in our garden and covered the tiny grave with flowers from our garden.

My next experience with birds (outside of the usual watching the local robins and swallows outside at the birdfeeder my grandmother and mother always kept filled in our cherry tree) was watching the movie "The Birds" by Alfred Hitchcock. I was probably around 6 the first time it was shown on TV, and since my mother was (and still is) an avid Hitchcock fan, of course we watched it. Being the precocious child that I was, instead of being horrified, I was curious about why the birds had behaved the way they did. Needless to say, I was already well on my way to becoming an ecologically aware, tree hugger/animal lover.

Every chance I got, I would beg my parents to go out driving in the country and I would look for birds. When we went to the zoo, I would spend a good deal of time in the aviary, amazed by the variety of sizes and colors of the lovely winged creatures. Summer vacations at the lake in the UP of Michigan were spent with my older sister and her family and the one thing I looked forward to the most was hearing the loons' early morning calls and watching them rise gracefully out of the water, skimming the lake and just creating an incredible sight. I marvelled at the formations of the geese as they migrated south each fall, only to return each spring. Growing up in the Midwest, we had some incredibly beautiful birds that inhabited our prairies and woodland areas - the common robin, harbinger of spring, with it's beautiful red breast, or the regal blue jays and bright red cardinal males with their familiar crests, the tanagers with their sleek black bodies and bright orange-red markings on their wings, and of course the wrens and swallows and mourning doves, not quite as colorful, but still a welcome sight at any time of the year.

When I moved to Arizona in my early 20's, I fell in love with the new varieties of birds that inhabit the desert and mountains of my home state. I had never seen a falcon soar with its incredible 5 foot wingspan, or a hawk swoop gracefully across the desert (although if I could, I would love to be able to fly like a bird for just one day). I was amazed the first time I saw a cactus wren suddenly appear from that small hole in a saguaro. I giggled as I watched little families of Gambel's quail toddling their way across the road, almost oblivious to traffic... and of course, the roadrunner - absolutely nothing like the one that caused Wyle E Coyote so much grief. Just as fast, but strange looking in a way that reminds me that birds are one of the closest things we have to dinosaurs, that still exist.

Birds calm me... when I was going thru difficult times in my life, I would often grab a head of lettuce and a loaf of bread and head off to one of the nearby ponds to feed the ducks and swans and other water fowl that would stay here year round. I would look forward to springtime with the ducklings following their mothers to the waters edge, effortlessly following along behind her while the drake would watch protectively from the shore. Summer saw them turning into full grown playful ducks, squawking and bantering and fighting to be the first one to get to the piece of bread or leaf of lettuce I had flung out in an open area of the water.

I haven't had the need to visit "my ducks" for awhile now, but I do have an owl that visits in the winter and somehow the sight of him sitting quietly, silently on the neighboring rooftop is reassuring to me. I love watching him when he does move to his next post... his wide and powerful wings flapping, breaking the silence of the dawn. In contrast, our patio is surrounded by flowering desert bushes, and in the warmth of the summer mornings, I can look out my window pretty much any day and be greeted by the iridescence of hummingbirds as they hover near the flowers, drawing away the sweet nectar.

Yes, I think the world would be a much less interesting place without our feathered friends. Unfortunately, it is becoming apparent that the bird population worldwide is dwindling. According to the Audobon Society , since 1967 the average population of the common birds in steepest decline has fallen by 68 percent; some individual species nose-dived as much as 80 percent. All 20 birds on the national Common Birds in Decline list lost at least half their populations in just four decades. A natural progression? Survival of the fittest? Losing their habitats to urban sprawl? No matter what the cause, I for one, would definitely miss these wonders of nature. If you are interested, the Audobon link has some great information on what you can do to help...think about it the next time you see your favorite little bird singing happily from its perch.

Thank you to these shops for the bird-related items which grace this article!

Large Primitive Birdhouse Surf Shop Vintage Barn Wood Metal Roof - RachaelsGarden
Vintage German Dictionary BOOKMARK with Bird - katieblue
Peacock 5x7 inch Photograph Double Matted - JSELEP
Bell the blue bird -leahkl
Cute Original Collage - singing red bird - Cabin
EMPTY NEST - MysticWynd
Blueberry Bird Necklace - VeraLuna
EMERALD DREAMS Charm Necklace - MysticWynd
NECTAR -hand-pierced sterling silver necklace- erinbowe
The Songbird Altered Picture Frame - ThriftyTrendsetter
THE MESSENGER Great Horned Screech owl - original fine art beaded painting -thelonebeader
Chickadee on bittersweet wall Decal - MonkeyThreads


Blue Green Arts said...

You have a beautiful blog, thanks for including one of my items!

The Lone Beader said...

Great post! I love all the birds!! Also, thanks for mentioning me! Cheers from Boston! :D said...

What a great blog - you are an amazing writer! Thank you so much for featuring my birdhouse and for spreading the word about the dwindling population of birds, and the Audobon Society!

Erin Bowe said...

Great post! I blog sometimes about my "bird experiences" too. :)

Thank you for including my hummingbird pendant! :)


Georgia M. said...

You have a lovely blog, and beautiful poetry. Very cool place you have here! Thank you for including my necklace, too!


VeraLuna Jewellery

Me, of course. said...

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping to create awareness for our birds.

You have a beautiful and eloquent writing style and I enjoyed reading every word.

Caring people like you are going to help make a difference for our feathered friends <3

Warm Regards, Sue

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