I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn. ~Henry David Thoreau
Spring has arrived full-glorious in the North Country. Not in color and leaf yet, but in song.
Walking yesterday in Richardson Nature Center we saw:
- Mallard Ducks
- Wood Ducks
- Hooded Mergansers
- Canadian Geese
- Ceder Waxwings
- Assorted Others
We also heard Red-Wing Blackbirds and saw a muskrat and a beaver.
I say “Assorted Others” because after years of quite-amateurish bird watching, there are scores of local birds I still struggle to identify. The subtle differences in sparrows, vireos, and wood warblers completely eludes me. I can never say for sure what I am looking at and so my “Birding List” is hardly complete.
I think we may have seen a Golden-winged Warbler, for example, but I can’t be sure. It could have been half a dozen small birds with yellow on the wing or shoulder. In birding, as in life, subtle differences matter much.
I enjoy bird watching for the same reason I enjoy carrying a camera with me when I am out in nature. It forces me to slow down and pay attention. To focus on the moment. Something my restless, wandering mind has difficulty doing.
I also enjoy it because it reminds me of what is most important, Beauty.
For the poet, there is nothing more important than re-focusing on Beauty. For as Keats, who wrote some pretty good poems about birds, once said:
‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’