One of Mike’s first experiences at camp was a bird walk (to learn more, you’ll have to read my book, when it prints). His experience and subsequent excitement opened us up to bird identification. We often trade stories and photos of what we’ve seen with friends and family. And while we’re not as serious as the birders in the 2011 film, The Big Year, we do like to pause and take note of our avian friends.
I’m sure many of you have become avid fans of birds, especially while stuck at home the last year or so. Here are a few of the touches with this magnificent creature that I’ve had recently.
Deciding to sit quietly after eating lunch outside in the sunshine, I was pleasantly surprised to hear humming in my right ear. I turned my head slightly to see Anna’s hummingbird buzzing right off my shoulder. It’s ruby head and green body was at eye level. I held my breath and enjoyed the show.
One evening while enjoying the setting sun, I again quieted and sat in observation. As I tried to discern the stars from planets, I heard a swoosh overhead. Looking up, I gasped as a great horn owl flew low buzzing me. Its wingspan was as long as I am tall (5 feet and a few inches). I watched as it landed on the neighbor’s roof. We stared at one another until the dogs were let out to join me and the owl flew away.
Our desert native birds are really cool, Gamble's Quail with the little bobber on its’ head, the Roadrunner that is very elusive and has a black crown, and Cactus Wren, with its bold brassy call. While I expect to see these birds at my feeder, I was surprised when a crew of rosy faced (some call them peach faced) love birds flocked to my backyard.
This feral population of these parrots, native to Africa, have flourished in Phoenix. They are beautiful and special, as there are no other known sightings in the rest of the country. For some reason they are thriving in the desert. While their coloring is striking, their call is harsh and unmistakable. As I was tiring of their noisiness, I was reminded of how fortunate I was when they took off in flight. Their coloring of green and peach blush on their cheeks was overshadowed by their aqua blue rumps.
Mike’s morning with the birds at camp has sparked my own interest. I look forward to the quail’s gobbling in the morning to wake me up. The rare sighting of a Roadrunner makes my heart sing. But most of all, I’m grateful for the reminder to slow down and notice.