Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lessons from the Marsh

This is our first trip to Magee Marsh, but only the first of many. Birders take trips like this for many reasons, I think. Some simply want to add to a list - a life list, a warbler list, a Magee Marsh list. Some go because of the unique opportunity to see so many species of birds at the same time and place. Think of all the driving you can avoid! Others may go to help support efforts to protect these feathered gems. We met old and new friends among the birders, and I was impressed with the efforts Black Swamp Bird Observatory makes to encourage young people to become birders. In fact, I was impressed with the wide variety of ages and physical strength and condition of birders, and the boardwalk allowed all of them to participate to the best of their ability. Birders, as a group, have always been very helpful, sharing identifications and a peek in a spotting scope. However, I think there are more lessons to be learned from our trip to the marsh, and the birds themselves can explain better than I can.
First, the Canada Geese teach us that there is safety in order. When things (or birds) get out of hand, somebody is going to be hurt.
The Red Eyed Vireo sings all alone in the deepest forest all day. If a bird sings in the forest and no one is there to hear, is it still beautiful? I'd say the answer is yes!
"Little guys sing the loudest," says the House Wren. Don't disregard someone just because they are small, because size isn't everything. Even small creatures have something important to contribute.
"Sit above the crowds to gain perspective," says this young Great Horned Owl. The masses walked below his nest tree all day, and he just watched, without becoming upset by the disruption to his routine. He knows he is still in charge. "I can see everything from up here."
The Common Yellowthroat recommends that you shouldn't be upset just because they call you "common." He hides in the brush and cattails, singing his distinctive song. We all know he's there, and it's a special occasion when we actually see and photograph him. "It's all a state of mind," he says.
The Cat Bird hops across the forest floor, tossing leaves over his shoulder. "The important thing," he adds, "is to pick up each leaf separately. This maximizes the findings, and thus, my dinner."
"The best bugs are always on the bottoms of the leaves, so don't stop looking," advises this Black Capped Chickadee. "The juiciest bug may be on the next leaf or the one after that. You just have to be persistent and keep your grip."
Although we birders are all looking for birds, they aren't the only things worth looking for in the marsh. We saw this wonderful hairy spider, a big snapping turtle, deer and a muskrat as well as birds. Everything is important.
The BSBO keeps a running list during the festival of all the birds sighted. Yes, with enough eyes on the job, all the warblers on the list can actually be seen! Although Dick and I like to bird and enjoy nature by ourselves, we do get better results when we go with other birders, and we learn so much from them. Thanks to everyone on the boardwalk for helping us find 23 different warbler species in our week! We will keep coming back to find the others.
At the end of the day, or the end of a week, remember that the reeds blow with the wind, and even if they bend to the ground, they will grow again, providing food and shelter for the creatures of the marsh. Be flexible about life, and adjust to what life gives you.


Mary Howell Cromer said...

OHHHH... that Common Yellow Throat is amazing and the series is really very nice as well...count me out on too much glee over the spider...they scare me, unless I see them first and not in the home~

Wilma said...

Lovely words with lovely photos. Thanks for sharing your birdwatcing trip with us.


Kathiesbirds said...

This looks like a fabulous place and what a wonderful post!