Wednesday, November 08, 2006


The weather forecast for today called for rain most of the day, but the radar showed a gap in the green, so I decided to use the window of opportunity to go for a short run up Moose Hill before work. With a little over 20 minutes of easy jogging, I can make it to the top of Moose Hill Parkway. Lately, I’ve been extending these runs to follow the gravel road through the woods and past the fields up to the old barn.

Today, after I reached the barn and headed down a short trail to head back home I saw a bird out of the corner of my eye. I was about to ignore it and keep going, but I had an urge to stop and go back for a closer look. I approached a small stand of aspens near the barn and quickly noticed several birds moving around in the trees and in the tangles of grape and bittersweet vines twining up them.

I think I spotted the kinglets first. I’ve seen a few of these tiny olive-backed birds in the past few weeks, and this time I finally saw a nice display of a bright orange crown, leading me to conclude that this was probably a golden-crowned kinglet. Next time, I’ll have to pay more attention to eye rings, eye stripes and wing bars to differentiate more carefully between golden-crowned and ruby-crowned kinglets.

It was a wet, foggy morning and the birds didn’t seem to mind me standing very close. This was good, since I was watching with the naked eye. I soon saw that there were other birds in this clump of trees along with the kinglets. In quick succession, I saw chickadees, titmice, brown creepers and a downy woodpecker; all from the same spot.

Then, I couldn’t believe my luck when I spotted a small thrush! I carefully noted a streaked breast and a reddish tail that he was pumping up and down a little like a phoebe. This was a hermit thrush.

I was having so much fun with this little gang of birds, not only because I found six species in about five minutes in one spot without binoculars, but because I had seen all of these birds just a few days ago in similar inter-specific groups. Only the nuthatch was absent today, and I have little doubt I would have seen one of those too, if I had lingered a few minutes more. I can expect to see chickadees, titmice and nuthatches almost any day, but kinglets, creepers and hermit thrushes are a special treat, and this group affirms my observations on Saturday that these particular species seem to like hanging around together.

As I started to jog home, I was in a good mood. This little group of birds boosted a spirit already elevated by the prospect of a new day in Washington. There is hope that some balance will be restored to our nation. Both sides were speaking of respect and cooperation. In Massachusetts, we made a little history by electing our first African-American governor ever, and only the second in the United States. Maybe the most amazing thing was that his race was essentially a non-issue. He seems a man of intelligence, poise, honesty and dignity who ran a positive campaign, in spite of some very nasty attacks on his character. He won in a landslide.

If, I thought, all these little birds from different species can gather to find food and watch for danger together, why can’t Americans? As a California philosopher once asked: “Can’t we all just get along?”

A warm rain started to fall as I ran down the hill toward home. I was happy that the clouds parted long enough for me to go to Moose Hill so a little band of cousins could teach me a lesson in tolerance, cooperation and companionship.


At 8:55 AM, Blogger Endment said...

Amazing... Just before I read your post I was looking out the window and spotted a thrush working in the leaves just below my window. The kinglets keep me company...
Your descriptions are delightful

At 9:58 AM, Blogger Lynne said...

Thanks for sharing your lesson!

At 8:25 AM, Blogger Lilly said...

I'm happy about the election results, too. We have held back the fascist beast, and it bodes well for the future.

Your posts always make me feel like I am there with you in the woods, so I come away from reading them refreshed and delighted with nature once again. Thanks for sharing your adventures.

At 2:21 PM, Blogger robin andrea said...

It's raining here today in Washington. Puddles are forming in our yard, and on the gravel driveway. The juncos and goldfinches have been splashing away in these new "ponds" enjoying the water with their incredible enthusiasm. I don't know what it is about watching birds that so calms the soul, but it does. I like how you describe your experience, mojoman. I love how you see and sense the world.

I am so happy about the election results I am still grinning!


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