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Posts Tagged ‘dead birds’

 

A northern mockingbird was my first bird of the new year. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 “Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” — Henry Van Dyke

Travels With Maggie

I’m a passionate birdwatcher, who keeps a list of birds I’ve seen. My life list now totals 696 bird species. It’s a respectable number for this late-blooming birder, but far from spectacular.

If you want to know more about the birding numbers game you should read “The Big Year” by Mark Obmascik. It’s a great read even if you aren’t a birder. It’s about three guys who spend a year chasing birds all across North America. At the whisper of a rare bird alert, they would fly thousands of miles on a minute’s notice.

Although I did once drive 400 miles to see one particular bird, these days I usually just bird where my travels take me. I check out bird festivals going on while I’m in the vicinity, and hook up with local Audubon chapters for birding field trips. This past year these efforts, including one day when I hired a guide to help me find the golden-cheeked warbler that I had been trying to find for three years, earned me 12 new life birds. And yes, the warbler was one of them.

I spotted this yellow-crowned night heron at the Sea Center in Lake Jackson, Texas. -- Photo by Pat Bean

This year’s birding efforts, meanwhile, have begun slower than normal. I’ve been parked in my son’s driveway here in Harker Heights all this week and a cold front moving through the area seems to have kept the birds tucked away.

At least they’re not falling out of the sky dead, as red-winged blackbirds and starlings have been doing in Arkansas the past couple of days. That’s a scary thing because birds, like the canaries coal miners carried into the tunnels with them as their bad air detectors, are indicators of an environment’s health.

My first bird of this new year was a northern mockingbird, appropriate since it’s Texas’ state bird. It was a brilliant gray and white fellow with yellow eyes that landed on a fence about eight feet from my RV window. As I watched, it flashed its long tail in the air – then pooped.

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