Saturday, February 06, 2010
survivors on wing
If you are a birder, you would love visiting my back yard -- and the attached laguna.
I have seen birds here that I have seen nowhere else. Even spotting an American Robin can be a thrilling experience in this exotic environment.
At one time, there were far more bird species residing in the laguna. Those days may be gone forever. Because the laguna is dying.
But the birds who have remained are truly survivors.
Chief among those is one of my favorites: the Great Kiskadee. I have always liked the named -- sounds almost Australian doesn't it? Kangaroo. Koala. Kiskadee.
But its bird family is almost as tantalizing: tyrant flycatcher. Sounds as if you wouldn't want to go many rounds in a slap-down with that clan.
And if you are an insect, small rodent, snake, small fish, tadpole, or fruit -- you have something to fear. This bird has the appetite of a teenage boy. It will eat almost anything. And like it.
Like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's comment on pornography: You will know this bird when you see it.
Large (almost 9 inches long). Colorful (yellow, brown, and white.) Noisy.
And almost as common as pigeons.
We have lost quite a few species in the laguna due to its overgrowth. But the Kiskadees appear to be happier than a congressman at a lobbyist fundraiser.
On Friday afternoon, I went for a walk and counted at least 20 of them. Of course, I cannot be certain that my count is any more accurate than the U.S. Census's. I probably counted several birds twice. But there are a lot.
You would think with that many birds, I could have snapped a better photograph. But birds are great conservers of energy. It was hot. And the shade was aplenty.
Besides, they had been cramped up in their trees for the past three days avoiding our Noahish flood. No one was going to take their freedom away from them. Birds have a certain Lockean love of liberty that I admire.
I am going to finish drafting the long-promised laguna piece. But I wanted to share at least one reason why I love living next to this body of water.
Even if it is dying.