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Winter Musings

The life of an aspiring naturalist, artist, and writer is essentially feast or famine and when you’ve got work, you make the most of it.  If only someone paid me to write this blog, it would be updated in a much more regular fashion.  Winter stymies the urge to be outside as well – waking up at 5am to bird in horizontal rain ain’t my cup of tea unless there’s an absolutely heretical rarity to pursue.

As I sit in my office and ponder the passing wings I realize how punctuated a quick view can be with fascinating behavior.

A sun break and the robins find the recessed areas of the parking lot for a much needed bath (Do robins ever start to smell from not showering enough?).  I’ll be honest that I’m unsure why they need a break in the rain to do this but it’s fun to see the silhouettes of twenty robins in a reflective puddle.

Droves of Golden-crowned Kinglets twitter past my window.  They are absolutely on the brink this time of year, it’s not freezing but they are small and have to eat constantly.  I wonder if their hovering and cleaning are that sucessful.  Obviously it gets them by, but how many of their speculative jabs equal a morsel?  They move so fast you’d need to film them and slow it down to be able to tell.

The holly trees on the back lot of our building are full of fruit.  The American Robins are gorging on as of late.  This I expect, but as I sit working on various tasks I’ll hear the alarm squeal of a robin as it flees the scene.  Every time I expect to see a devastating kill in progress – my gorge rises and I want blood.  But I just see robins in random abandon.  After a few reiterations, it’s clear that they may not even be avoiding an actual predator – no Sharp-shinned or Cooper’s Hawk.  Their flights are non-linear and give me the impression of zigzagging – it’s as if they are just covering their butts and when they decide to leave the scene, they leave in a flustered hurry and act as if death is in tow.  Doesn’t sound like too bad of a stratagey – I recall the giddy feeling of running into enemy territory during a game of capture the flag.  Of course with the birds life and death are near at hand.

The crows cavort all over my little view.  High above they harass a Great-blue Heron as it pushes by.  I make a point of acknowledging them when I’m outside in our back stock.  It seems a bit bucolic – a silly nod to a time past when people had a deeper connection with animals – but when I do say “hello,” I get the distinct impression they aren’t as hasty in retreat.  It’s a twisted person that hunts crows but apparently it’s something of a pastime in more rural areas.

With my odd assortment of thoughts I’ll leave with this video I made recently – it’s an entry I made for a Nikon contest but I think it reflects my pondering bird life in a winter scale.

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About the Author

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I am a natural history writer and photographer, obsessed birder, naturalist, and artist. When I'm not learning by reading, drawing, painting, taking photos, or being outside, I am probably asleep.

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