Birdwatcher’s Corner (6)

April 5, 2020

In Birdwatcher's Corner


By Nico Arcilla and Maren Hackmann-Mahajan

Welcome to our global pandemic edition of Birdwatcher’s Corner! We hope you and your loved ones are as safe and healthy as can be as we ride out this storm together. The COVID-19 crisis has done what the extinction crisis, the climate crisis, and so many other crises did not do: stop us in our tracks and shut down business as usual. Inspired by Norman’s recent post on the indomitable human spirit (, and the Rotterdam Philharmonic’s playing for all of us from isolation in their homes, we wanted to share some images of a few other indomitable spirits to help tide us all through!

We put up walls; birds get over them. We make borders; birds transcend them. We have entirely transformed the world in which they live, yet they persist, adapt, and live on, through all the obstacles we throw at them. At a time when the whole world seems to stand still, let us take a moment to wonder at the indomitable spirit of birds.

The Grey Heron revels in solitude, whether on a remote lake or a city canal, a master of social distancing. The Eurasian Nuthatch embodies discipline and hope, working relentlessly while filling our days with song that can’t help but bring hope for the future. When many birds in northern climes head south to escape winter’s cold and snow, the Blue Tit stays put, hunkering down through long dark days with grace. The Abyssinian Roller personifies boldness in the face of danger, making fantastic aerial displays to defend its home and family. Snow Geese fly through the night to avoid hunters who pursue them, calling out to each other in the dark to keep their spirits high, moving seamlessly together towards their common destination.

Much like Beethoven’s sublime symphonies, our beautiful and courageous feathered friends fill us with awe. Below are some magical moments created by Anna’s Hummingbird, White-tailed Kite, and Red-tailed Hawk under the California sky, which is itself a wonder to behold.

Henry Beston wrote of birds and other non-human beings: “In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.” May birds, our fellow prisoners, inspire us to meet the crisis we now face with the courage and grace it demands, and make each moment matter. Take care of yourself, and let us take care of each other.

Nico’s photos

                1. Grey Heron2. Eurasian Nuthatch3. Blue Tit
4. Abyssinian Roller5. Snow Geese

Maren’s photos (San Francisco Bay Area)

1. Anna’s Hummingbird

2. White-tailed Kite3. Red-tailed Hawk (young)4. White-tailed Kite


5. Anna’s Hummingbird

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