I’m feeling bad because I was kind of down on Brown-headed cowbirds in the post I did last Wednesday, right before Skywatch. Cowbirds are just trying to make a living like everybody else. Most bird enthusiasts will know the story about how they evolved as brood parasites to adapt to their feeding habits of following the buffalo across the open prairie. They would fly to the closest trees, find a warbler or other small bird’s nest, deposit an egg, and move on with the herd. Over millennia, some songbirds adapted for this, recognized the intrusions, and a balance was worked out. But now that we’ve destroyed so many large old forests, and fragmented many into isolated islands of trees, more and more deep woods songbirds, with no adaptations whatsoever, are abruptly subject to cowbird parasitism. A study was done to determine how far into a forest cowbirds will go, so we know what’s happening: we have been giving cowbirds practically unlimited habitat, and they’ve been taking full advantage. Only time will tell how many of our songbirds we will lose. Many species are already stressed form other environmental effects we've caused. We humans do not play well with others, it would seem.
I’m also checking with some of my First Nations (Canada) and Native American (US) friends to see they have any special name for these birds in their languages. Generally speaking, aboriginal peoples had names for all the “important” big birds, like eagles, hawks, or ravens, and all the rest were called by a generic word meaning “small bird.” But given the closeness of native people to the buffalo, and the buffalo to these birds, I wouldn’t be surprised if these birds had their own name. I'll let you know if I find anything out. Meanwhile, I want to make amends to cowbirds; it’s really not their fault about how things are going. So, I am hereby renaming them, in recognition of their original lifestyle following the buffalo herds. From now on they will be known (at least to me) as Buffalo Birds.
The Cloud Messenger (Meghadūta) is a lyric poem by the respected Indian poet, Kālidāsa. The poem centers around a yaksa in exile. Longing for his beloved, waiting for him on a Himalayan mountain, he asks a cloud to take a message to her. The sights he tells the cloud it will see on its way make up most of the poem.
The idea of recording observations appeals to me. I thought The Cloud Messenger was the perfect title for a blog about the journey that we all make as we move through our days.
I'm a baby boomer who grew up dancing in the streets of Detroit during the classic Motown years, lived beside the Rocky Mountains for many years, now retired and living (and writing full time) in S. Ontario. I have one blog for rock 'n' roll oldies, and one for nature, poetry and life along the Lake.