Friday, November 23, 2018

Birding on the river

I go out birding on the river. Oh, not your traditional birding, what with the binoculars and life lists and knowledge of birds. Nope, it's just me and my near ignorance, walking along, looking at birds. Sometimes I know their names, sometimes I don't.

Yesterday, I saw two cardinals, which is nothing fancy for a professional birder, but for me it was almost a relief. This may be the grayest time of the year here. If something is not gray right now, bark, earth, or pine for instance, it just turns gray anyway in the flat, dead, waiting-for-snow light. But not so with these cardinals. They were scarlet, the color of fresh blood in the sun, the color of sour cherries ripe on trees, of fire engines being polished on the driveway of the firehouse. These birds said to the gray light "What is your problem anyway?" And they said it with their succinct, single color. It's always nice to see someone forthright and with something to say.

We get some brilliant and strange migrations out on the Mississippi River as well. I saw the first hint of the Robin Hoards yesterday. It was just a tree and a half full of Robins, but it hints at grander displays to come. Of course they have their rust chests for a splash of color, but once there are 50 or 100 birds I get a little too excited to worry about color.

There are eagles flying about pretty much every day, but towards the end of my walk one was roosting in a tree and that's a little more uncommon. This was a major birding treat because they plop down in the dead trees high over the river, but as the path is on the edge of the ravine, one kind of ends up eye to eye with the eagle, in this case as close as maybe 15 feet away.

I looked at the eagle and laughed. The eagle looked at me and did nothing except look kind of intense and a little crazy. This, I understand, is textbook eagle behavior. I wrote him down on my birdlist, which I keep in my head because I never see more than three birds I know the name of in a single walk.

I can always remember three things.

And so I have.

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