Friday, November 25, 2011

Chickadees, Vultures, Doves, and the Love of Birds

"We learned to be patient observers like the owl. We learned cleverness from the crow, and courage from the jay, who will attack an owl ten times its size to drive it off its territory. But above all of them ranked the chickadee because of its indomitable spirit." -Tom Brown, Jr., The Tracker (Quote found on Legends of

I read this quote and an image began to form in my mind of the little black-capped chickadees in my backyard in Texas, hopping from branch to branch, sometimes clinging to the bark, sometimes brushing against the colorful leaves that spiraled to the ground as the chickadees danced. When I stepped through the back door, that was the first sound to greet me--the sound of the playful, life-loving chickadees.

I remember watching the black vultures that lived in the forest behind my house in Kingsland, Texas. Every night, I would climb a ladder to the roof of the house to photograph the spectacular Texas sunset for my friends and family, and every night, a mated pair of black vultures flew out of the forest, gliding over the roof of my house so close to my head I could feel the beat of their wings in the passing air, then landing on a nearby utility post where they would face the setting sun, sometimes snuggling close to each other, watching, as I watched. When the sun was down, and I started back down the ladder, the vultures would return to the forest behind my house.

Last night, as I watched a flock of white winged doves in the backyard of my house in New Mexico, I noticed they, too, turned to watch the setting sun. I filled the bird trays with seed a few minutes earlier, and they hovered over the trays, fluttering up and down, trying to find the best access to the seed, and yet, so patient with their family and friends. Then, when the sun moved lower in the sky and the Sandia Mountains turned their classic shade of pink, the birds turned to watch.

Sometimes I feel as if these birds are speaking to me in their songs and their behavior. I feel as if they are teaching me, reminding me to slow down and watch the sun rise, and the sun set, and appreciate its beauty. They're telling me to listen to the wind in the trees and let that be my music. They are telling me to dance, wild and free, among the leaves of the trees as they fall to the ground. They are telling me to enjoy life while I can, and I am listening.

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