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Bluebirds

Western Bluebird — Wikimedia photo

 If you’re as old as I am, you might remember the popular World War II song, There’ll Be Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover.

       If you’re an ornithologist, that phrase might make you chaff. England has no bluebirds. But if you’re just an enthusiastic birder, like me, it might bring a smile to your face.

That’s what it did when I read this piece of trivia. It’s amazing the things you learn if you’re an eclectic reader. As a birder, I do know that America does have bluebirds, three species. The Mountain Bluebird, which is bright blue and resembles images of the Blue Bird of Happiness, and Western and Eastern Bluebirds, which also have a bit of white and rusty-red hues in their feathers.

          But in defense of idea about Bluebirds flying over England’s White Cliff’s of Dover, some say the bluebird in the song refers to English war planes flying over the cliffs, others that it refers to swallows and martins, which do fly over the cliffs, and which have a blue sheen.

          Anyway, in case you remember the song, which was written in 1941 by Walter Kemp with lyrics by Nat Burton, and made popular by Vera Lynn’s 1942 recording, the lyrics go like this:

There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover,
Tomorrow, just you wait and see.
I’ll never forget the people I met
Braving those angry sky’s
I remember well as the shadows fell
The light of hope in their eyes
And though I’m far away I still can hear them say
Sun’s up
For when the dawn comes up
There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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  “The Bluebird of Happiness long absent from his life, Ned is visited by the Chicken of Depression.” – Gary Larson

Three Choices 

Male mountain bluebird. Have you ever seen anything bluer? -- Wikipedia photo

Male mountain bluebird. Have you ever seen anything bluer? — Wikipedia photo

           North America has three bluebirds, an eastern, a western and the mountain bluebird. My tiny blue, glass figurine that represents the symbol of happiness — which is still hidden somewhere in the bins I stored away before taking to the road in my RV — most certainly represents the mountain variety. I hope I find it soon.

A mountain bluebird’s feathers, in my experience, are the bluest of blues. So blue that I was startled the day I first saw one. It seemed to sparkle in the cool, high mountain air where a recent snowfall had frosted the spruces and firs.

It was April 10, 1999. The day is etched in my memory because it was the day I began a passionate love affair with all birds – from the gigantic California condor, whose recovery from near extinction I have often wrote about, to the tiny calliope who once flashed me with its brilliant purple neck feathers.

This is an eastern bluebird that I photographed in the Natchez Trace as he sat on the rearview mirror of my RV. Hes cute, too, isn't he? == Photo by Pat Bean

This is an eastern bluebird that I photographed in the Natchez Trace as he sat on the rearview mirror of my RV. He’s cute, too, isn’t he? — Photo by Pat Bean

I’ve seen many mountain bluebirds since then, including at least 300 the time I was driving Highway 95 through the Glen Canyon Recreation Area. For about 10 miles of the drive, small flocks of the birds flittered along the roadside as I passed them by. I occasionally pulled off the road for a better look through my binoculars. The red-rock settings of the canyon made the blue feathers of the bird stand out — and glitter like stars on a dark night away from city lights.

Once, I participated in an Audubon check of bluebird boxes near the top of Monte Cristo in Northern Utah. During one of the nest box inspections, the leader of this long-term project was dive-bombed by two agitated bird parents as he unscrewed the top of the box so we could all check what was inside. I held my breath as I observed six baby mountain bluebirds with developing soft smoky gray feathers. It was truly a magical moment, especially when we all retreated and the parents saw that their babies were unharmed.

And so was the moment I had yesterday, when I observed my first mountain bluebird in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains, which are now my backyard.

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: 23 Thorns http://tinyurl.com/qbdv4fk I started this blog because it was titled Baobab Tree. I can’t resist trees — or blogs about them. But the blog talked about a lot more than trees, including rhinos and fish eagles, and I was fascinated and charmed by the conversation, lengthy though it was – and with more to come. .

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