Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Tagged by Yamy

Y'know, it occurs to me as I start this post that one of the pastimes of serious birders is to help "tag" birds so that they can be counted and tracked. OK, really, they use leg bands, not tags. Still. The comparison still applies. I feel like I have a figurative tranquillizer dart in my butt.


On to business. My sister Yamy was tagged by Gwyn, and she returns the favor by tagging me. Now I have to try to come up with ten beautiful birds. This is not easy, because I am not a serious birder. I love birds. I do. I love the little songbirds and I get very excited by the more exotic birds, but I can not, in any way, be confused with a serious birder. I envy serious birdwatchers, because those people really know how to stop and smell the roses.

So here's my list, such as it is........

Ten Most Beautiful Birds
10. Mourning Dove
OK, the mourning dove may not seem totally beautiful to everyone. But I can remember moving to Tennessee and how delighted Mama was to see and hear the mourning doves that lived in a maple tree next to our new home. Our second-story bathroom was right next to that tree, and every morning she would exclaim, "Listen to the mourning doves!" It took me two years to figure out it was "mourning," not "morning." And the thing is, their call is mournful and soft, a gentle coo-hoot. But their color -- divine. I defy anyone in the upper echelons of haute couture fashion to devise a color as soft and demure as the soft buff-tan of those doves' feathers. Just gorgeous! I want gloves in that color. They would go with *anything*.

9. Cardinals
I am 39 years old, and I still thrill each winter to see male cardinals flitting around the yard in cheery defiance of the cold weather. I feel sorry for the females with their dull brown garb, but those boys -- wow! They are the supermodels of the common bird-feeder world, aren't they? I remember one Thanksgiving in particular, when Amy was at my house and we went outside to escape the hot, hot kitchen and watched a cardinal flying around my yard in a snow flurry. Do I have pictures? No. But I carry the memory in my heart, and it is as warm and beautiful as the male cardinal's red feathers and as proud and happy as his jaunty crest.

8. Canadian geese in formation
Every fall, I get to see geese heading south for winter. Their feathers I do not notice, nor can I really even see. The thing that gets me, year after year, is that they fly in such perfect, beautiful formation. As soon as I hear their tuneful honks, I run outside to see them fly overhead. They are reliable. They are trustworthy. And that makes them beautiful.

7. Red-bellied woodpecker
When I hear a woodpecker in my backyard, I can be sure it's probably a red-bellied. They're the most common woodpecker in my part of the world. The thing is, I have never seen a red belly on these birds -- what I see is their brilliant red heads. And I love woodpeckers in general. I know lots of people think they're pests, and maybe they are for some people. But here, they are eating the bugs out of my trees, and for that I am grateful.

6. Goldfinches
In summer, these little gems are bright yellow, swag-flying jewels. I adore them. I just love everything about a goldfinch. I get so excited when I see them, I've been known to stop and pull over on a roadside to try to get a better look at them. How can anyone not love a bird that flies so artistically and eats weed seeds?

5. Indigo bunting
Yamy listed the Indigo bunting, too. But she has better memories of it from our childhood. As far as I was concerned the Indigo bunting was a mythical creature -- until the day one landed in my tomato patch. I had no idea any bird could be so incredibly purple-blue. It was gorgeous. I hope to see another one someday!

4. Peacock
My neighbors down the road keep a small flock of peacocks. I take delight in their loud, strident mating call, as it totally drowns out anything my little parrots emit on a daily basis. But really -- when I see them in the field down there, whether they're dragging their tails or in full posture, fanning their tails out, these are absolutely undeniable showstoppers. Those birds are gorgeous. Every single color on them is showy and luscious and beautiful. No, they're not indigenous to the North American continent. But man, those are beautiful birds.

3. Black-capped chickadees
Anyone who keeps a bird feeder during winter has seen these darling little birds eating millet in the snow. The thing about black-capped chickadees is their formal attire and their polite demeanor. Unlike cardinals, they're never strident. Unlike woodpeckers, they aren't destructive. Unlike peacocks, they're never deafening. Black-capped chickadees don their tuxedos sometime in their youth, and they never take them off. They're tiny, polite, sweet little Fred Astaires, in their top hats and tails, nibbling on whatever you leave out for them. I just don't see *enough* black-capped chickadees, that's all.

2. Eastern bluebirds
That blue, blue coat and that soft, rosy breast -- who can resist bluebirds? They really are the bird of happiness for me.

1. Ruby-throated hummingbirds
OK, I'm prejudiced. I admit, I confess, I have a dog in that race. I have loved hummingbirds as long as I can remember. When I was 7 years old and at camp for the first time, one of the directors pointed out a hummingbird to me as it hovered at the sugar-water feeder she had hung just outside the dining room's screen windows. I'll never forget the awe I felt as that little hummer sipped and slurped at the nectar. It was tiny. It was brilliant. Surely no bird had ever been so elegant and so lovely. Then I grew up and discovered the other side of hummingbirds -- they're so mean! I love that a bird can be both dainty and so tenacious!


At 18/5/06 9:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I walk Victoria to the bus stop in the morning, the doves are cooing. Victoria cooes back and giggles when one responds to her.
I've never seen an indigo bunting, do they live in TN?

At 19/5/06 12:08 AM, Blogger Bay in TN said...

No, Sabrina, indigo buntings do not live in Tennessee. They're native to Wisconsin and other northern states. Seeing an indigo bunting here is a fluke, and it's even more rare in Georgia, which is where my mother saw one on one particularly strange winter morning. That's what makes the sighting that much more sweet and noticeable!

At 1/3/07 7:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best regards from NY! » » »


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