September 12, 2020
In Birdwatcher's Corner
By Nico Arcilla and Maren Hackmann-Mahajan
Whatever we may be going through in these turbulent times, new life is all around us as we move into autumn, and many young birds are making their first migration. We dedicate this edition of Birdwatcher’s Corner to all those caring for new life, and to young birds in particular, with their courage and resilience that belies their fragility.
A fledgling Red-winged Blackbird (1) turned up on our windowsill, at home just as much as she was in her nest suspended in the reeds at the edge of the nearby pond. An American Robin (2) a few weeks out of the nest showed up to take a bath in the water dish we left on the patio and was kind enough to linger long enough for this portrait. The Crimson-crested Woodpecker (3) waiting in his nest hole for his parents’ return in a Venezuelan rain forest is a close relative of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, a species once widespread in North America that, sadly, we can no longer gaze at in wonder due to our destruction of the North American forests essential to its survival. Bald Eagles (4), like this three-year-old sitting with her father, might have suffered the same fate due to pesticide poisoning, but fortunately people intervened in time to prevent their extinction. Cliff Swallows (5) arrive each spring from South America; legend has it that the birds made the six thousand mile journey to California’s Mission San Juan Capistrano only to have their nests knocked down by local shopkeepers, but that a kindhearted priest invited them to stay. They have returned faithfully ever since, nesting together in the thousands. You can see by this young one’s long wings he was born to fly!
Also pictured, enjoying San Francisco Bay: a Mallard and her chick (1), a tiny Black-necked Stilt, learning how to walk ever so gracefully across the mud (2), a couple of still brownish White-tailed Kites in their nest (3), an American Avocet feeding right by its parent’s feet (4), and families of Canada Geese, who look like they would just love to take Nils Holgersson on a wonderful journey across California (5). As writer Selma Lagerlöf tells it, Nils was a pesky young rascal who hitched a ride with a flock of geese who flew all over Sweden; through his adventures on this journey he won the friendship of the birds and became a man. So here’s to adventure, friendship, and travels, and welcome to the world, new feathered friends; we know you’ll make the most of it!
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