THIS IS FOR THE BIRDS
Birds are all around us in such amazing quantity and variety. Right now there could be a Cedar Waxwing or Great Crested Flycatcher or a Northern Flicker right outside the window, but unless we take the time to look for them, we often fail to appreciate these beautiful wonders of nature that share our environment.
Can you imagine a visit to the coast without seeing a single pelican? I would really miss those funny, primeval-looking water birds. In the 1960's in Louisiana, the native population of Brown Pelicans was actually reduced to zero, but recently it was reported that the Brown Pelican is to be removed from the endangered species list. Since the banning of DDT in 1972, the birds have bounced back, from about 10,000 individuals to an estimated 650,000 today. What great news!
Of course, I cannot forget to mention the runner-up for our National Bird, the humble American turkey. With the holidays coming, I can just hear it now. Not gobble gobble gobble; something more along the lines of "My heart aches, and drowsy numbness pains my sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk...". Ode to a Nightingale describes John Keats's thoughts on mortality, but the beginning of his famous poem might be appropriate for many of us to utter in the aftermath of our annual Thanksgiving celebration. In spite of the side effects of overeating, I am sincerely thankful for the turkeys that sacrifice their lives every year for the sake of our feasts.
If you are interested in reading some works of fiction in which birds figure prominently, try:
- A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson
- The Final Solution: A Story of Detection by Michael Chabon
- The Conjurer's Bird by Martin Davies
- In Hovering Flight by Joyce Hinnefeld
- The Bird Catcher by Laura Jacobs
- The Book of Dead Birds by Gayle Brandeis
Image courtesy of dracobotanicus
Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services