One of my favourite blogs is nichepoetryandprose, in which the author combines prose, poetry and delightful pencil-drawing illustrations to convey a sense of the joy and comfortable familiarity in nature and everyday experiences. One of her subjects lately has been the birds that come to her feeder. This is a passion I share, and I thought I’d take the time to see who of you out there also take special pleasure from watching birds. There are the birds that stay for the winter, the birds that come each summer to nest and raise their babies, the rare sighting of an unusual bird passing through, and the innumerable birds of all sizes and colours that inhabit places all around the globe.
In the northeast, we have our year-round feathered friends, such as: chickadees, New Brunswick’s provincial bird; endearing nuthatches, the upside-down walkers; woodpeckers, large, medium and small versions; cardinals, where each sighting is a treat and a splash of colour against the snow; and seagulls, who along with crows can find plenty to eat at garbage dumps and fast food parking lots when the river is frozen over and nature’s offerings are not bountiful.
Summer dwellers include: hummingbirds, that come back with the promise of flowers; robins, that come back for the worms (although there are at least two here right now, wondering what the white stuff is that’s still covering the ground); and lots more, like redpolls, redstarts, and far more kinds of finches than we have right now.
And of course, magnificent birds are found everywhere. Some of my favourites include the guinea fowl and very tall secretary birds in southern Africa and the wild parakeets in India. Then there are the vividly coloured bee-eaters, heron of different colours and heights…, but I probably have at least 100 favourites.
Recently, I heard about two birds that were compared to marathon runners for their perseverance, the northern wheatear and the arctic tern. They travel for many thousands of miles each year between their summer nesting grounds in the arctic and their preferred winter get-aways. The northern wheatears are small songbirds that travel nearly 7,500 kilometres to reach their choice of winter destinations in sub-Saharan Africa, while the arctic tern has the longest migration of any creature on earth, travelling between the arctic or sub-arctic and Antarctica, a round trip of over 70,000 kilometres each year. Perseverance indeed. That has to make 42.2 kilometres (or 26.2 miles) seem like pretty small potatoes!
Each bird species has its own story and its own personality.
Question of the day: Of all the birds you know, which is your favourite bird? How would you describe its personality?