Going to the Birds

Do you long to connect with wildlife? Maybe the wild critter in you is asking for like-minded companionship. That calling in me has escalated during the political crises that have defined our human zone in the States for the last couple of years.

My daily practice includes a stroll around Bodega Bay Head. It’s chuck full of wildlife. Birds are its most obvious residents and part-time guests. The ubiquitous bunnies and gophers feed many of them. Access to the harbor, bay and Pacific Ocean provides gluts of seafood for those so inclined. Great Blue Heron, Egrets and Ravens and Great Horned Owls are year-round residents, countless others drop in for a season or two annually.

This year, Life has blossomed here. A five-year drought broke last winter. A couple of extra feet of water were bestowed on our life-support system. Apparently, this tripped a baby-making trigger. Our resident raven couple had their first brood in six years. They had three beautiful babies, who have already grown into aerial acrobats. Their mom and dad take them on hunting excursions around the park and village several times a day.

Back in March, before Mom and Dad Raven had their eggs, Momma Raven broke a leg. It dangled crookedly below her belly when she flew. Her flights reflected her distress. They were short, business like, instead of her usual displays of aerial wizardry. Some of her feathers looked discombobulated. Back then, I didn’t know that she was about to brood. It looked like she was about to die. Then, I didn’t see her for about six weeks. I thought it likely that she had succumbed to her injuries.

For the next several weeks, her husband established a routine of what looked like compulsive hunting and flying to their nest among a group of Cypress trees. I now know that he was feeding her while she brooded. Later, he was feeding three chicks too. So much for my hypothesis that he was in the throes of a grief reaction.

I got my first glimpse of the babies and their mom a few weeks ago. Mom looked seriously haggard, but her flight seemed smoother as did her feathers. She looked like a woman who had just spent a couple of months trapped alone with three toddlers. My heart went out to her. She reciprocated by swooping over me, landing a couple of feet away and doing a little jig. When she had finished, she flew to the perch her husband was on and touched his beak with hers. The gesture was every bit as tender as any kiss I’ve shared.

Since then, I’ve been bringing a bag of peanuts along on my morning walks. Now, their kids usually spot my car and accompany me part of the way between my home and theirs. I don’t have words for how good this feels. The only equivalent high I’ve experienced is having a band of horses race across their pasture to greet me. If there’s a better feeling available on this plane, I haven’t experienced it.

It transcends true love! It beats that moment when you finally understand a concept that you’ve struggled with for years, or perfect a recipe, or reconnect with a long-lost friend. It’s truly the bee’s knees. Why? I think this feels so good because we humans need it so much.

We’ve designed our world to minimize contact with real life based on our fears. In so doing, we’ve lost far more than we’ve gained. In this moment of geo-political crises, what we humans need most is to reconnect with real Life. I offer you a bit of mine in the hope that it’ll inspire you to share a bit of yours.

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3 thoughts on “Going to the Birds”

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