Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bird Brained

Saw a killdeer today. Of course, not being a birder, if I saw one yesterday, they've probably been here at least a week. Have I ever told you the story of the first time I (knowingly) saw a killdeer? I'm sure I'm not the only one out there with a similar story... I was just a budding nature nerd of middle school age, and a naturalist entered the nature center where I was taking a class all excited because there was a killdeer, and we just had to come out back and see. Of course, teachable moment, we abandoned whatever we were doing to go outside and see the killdeer. Which I though was going to be a dead deer. Possibly, with all the excitement, a freshly dead one with, like, coyote tracks around it, and its guts dragged across the ground or something. This is what I was looking for as the naturalist pointed to what appeared to be an empty lawn and proudly presented the finding. A "who's on first" style conversation occurred before I figured out that a killdeer and a deer kill were two very different things, and I decided to pretend I knew what the heck was going on. Embarrassed, I privately looked up the killdeer later on. It's plover-esque appearance and "kill dear" voice are unmistakable to me today.

Also saw a blue jay (year-round residents, but certainly seen more in the warmer months) and a redtail, all within minutes of each other. This reminds me of a not-too-funny but containing-important-message comic that we saw at a session of the Wild Things conference. Reluctantly, I have pasted the cartoon below. I say reluctantly because I don't know the rules about putting things like that on my blog. As a general rule, every image I use on here is my own, and if I want to use another, I'll put a weblink to someone else's page. But I couldn't find one for this, and describing a comicstrip does kind of lose something in translation, and really, I don't think I have enough readers to attract a law suit. Knock wood.
Kinda cute. Although it was a Chicago Wilderness conference, the presenter was using the comic as a lesson about the (over-)analysis of poetry (bird poetry, to be sure) rather than as a lesson about the analysis of phenological events. But of course, it works both ways. The hawk need be no less special to see just because it lives here year round and I saw one just last week. Only the small minded think they can see something once, check it off a metaphorical list, and be done with it.

Anyhow, I'm keeping my eyes peeled for herons, but haven't seen one yet. Of course, there's not a lot of open water yet, either; perhaps I need to be looking by the river instead of the yet-frozen lakes.

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