Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Wonder of Learning

A view of the Wahatoyas: Breasts of the Earth

I am approaching sixty years old…the new forty. I find it amusing that I am embracing the interests and hobbies of an older generation.

Spring snowstorms; why I feed birds.
A Black-headed Grosbeak w/Bollock's Oriole and
Bollock's Oriole (m) with Hairy Woodpecker (f)

and three-in-one: an Evening Grosbeak, a Black-headed Grosbeak and a Bollock's Oriole .

Still, having always had an interest in the natural world; from camping to snake-hunting, from gardening to bring home crayfish to watch the birth of thousands upon thousands of young; from watching and raising chickens to catching and keeping lizards, shrews and large, unusual bugs; I have enjoyed time outside watching the creatures that live there. Now I am bird watching.

...haven't seen them for weeks, and suddenly there was
a Dark-eyed Junco.

In Bill Thompson III’s book Identify Yourself; the 50 Most Common Birding Identification Challenges, Kenn Kaufman writes in his forward to the book “…knowing the names for things can change our perceptions of them for the better.”

He goes on to say that when someone asks “I wonder what kind of bird that is?” and cares enough to find the name of a bird, that person has started down the road to becoming a bird watcher.

The beautiful Western Tangaer, a short-time visitor here.
Heyyyyyy, could this be a Jelly-head impersonator?
(looks like a jelly-drip to meee.)

The Tangaer shares a meal with a Black-headed Grosbeak

A male (left) and female (right) Bullock's Oriole,
but I'm not at all sure which is prettier.

The female Black-headed Grosbeak is quite similar
to the female Rose-breasted, but the lack of strong
streaking on her breast identifies her.

I suspect that is why there is a move to get children outside. Too many are spending days inside with television, computers and game-players and not discovering, and naming, the treasures in our natural world. Is it any surprise so many young people do not care to keep habitats clean or intact? Is it any surprise that people who do not know nature feel that humans, as the top-predator, have the right to change the world in any way that suits them to make life easier for them, even if it gravely impacts the world itself?

When I first saw this tiny bird, I thought it was a Bluebird. While
he is blue, this is the Lazuli Bunting..only 5-6" long and unlike the
Bluebird he sports a wide, conical beak for breaking seeds.

Kevin Cook says today in his weekly column Pathfinder: “To know the steppe is to love it; and knowing and loving are a simple commitment: teach the mind and the heart will follow.” and “If one tethers their sense of beauty to trees, then the absence of trees implies an absence of beauty misperceived as emptiness. Such tethering is a bondage of mind and soul.”

As George Schaller observed three and a half decades ago: "The character of a region has much to do with the character of the person describing it, for we see our own heart in a landscape. That the mind understands, the heart can love. It's a kind of magic.”

A seldom seen Rose-breasted Grosbeak with the
oft-seen Black-headed Grosbeak and ubiquitous Pine Siskin.

Mike, of Mike’s Birding and Digiscoping discusses ‘Electrolandia’ and The Nature Conservancy’s study that finds kids prefer TV over Trees. He quotes Richard Louv regarding saving our children from ‘nature-deficit disorder’ in his book Last Child in the Woods; where the author argues teaching awareness of and appreciation for the natural world will not only teach our children science and nurture creativity…it will ensure that we have stewards for our future.

All this brings to my mind how much I relish my childhood and the time I had to play outdoors; that my parents not only instilled in me a love of books, but by what they read to me, instilled the magic of nature. My parents were not perfect, nor were they ‘outdoorsy’; they were not well-educated people but they were curious and read about and how to do things. They had an innate respect for the natural world and showed me that respect when, as smokers, they refused to smoke when we went camping. Oddly, while interested in organized religion they also saw great spirituality in spending time in nature and saw the woods as close to godliness as any church.

I have to laugh at myself, the enthusiastic new birder. I am overly excited to see new birds; I’m feeding them at several many stations in my yard, I’m keeping lists of birds I see, I’m taking as many pictures as I possibly can. In my enthusiasm, I’m posting my failures and success; both good photos and bad. I am learning how to write, and what are the rules of blogging. I am growing. Already, though I post them here, I am rapidly loosing interest in photos of birds at feeders. I want to learn more, I want to get out more; I want to remember birds in the natural canopy of a tree, on the natural branch of a tree or in the sky where they are so comfortable. I can see my photos are improving, and they will continue to become more.

That is the wonder of learning; we become more.

The small town of La Veta is nestled within the Huerfano Valley
against the Spanish Peaks, also known as The Wahatoya:
Breasts of the Earth.


Bosque Bill said...

Bev, you're doing great at the blogging (and birding) thing. Keep it up.

What are you putting out to attract the oriole to your (suet?) feeder?

Beverly said...

Awwwww... thanks Bill! I appreciate your comments. I'm getting better, but need to get pics of birds in trees and off the feeders! LOL

I put out Grape Jelly, sugar water (I drilled out the hummingbird feeders so the Orioles could feed there too, mealworms (which, oddly, nobody seems to eat), and orange halves... in addition to the Black Oil Sunflower, Safflower Seed and suet blocks. Generally I use a block that has added fruit or nut pieces. It's interesting that the Orioles like the suet so much; nearly as much as the oranges!

Beverly said...

Oh...that would be live mealworms, btw.