Tuesday, October 20, 2009

ON WARBLERS and FINCHES


A few days ago I bundled up against the wind and stepped out into my back yard to watch another large flock of migrating birds go by—double-crested cormorants this time. As I rounded the corner of the porch, my heart sank to see a tiny bird lying at the foot of the window. I leaned over its body to see if perhaps it was just temporarily stunned, but even as I bent down, something in it’s posture told me there was no life there. I’m always sad when any bird dies from hitting my windows, even a sparrow or a starling, but this little one was darkly beautiful in deep midnight colors studded with moon-bright patches of white—a male black-throated blue warbler—and those are much less plentiful than the common brown birds of my yard. Each one is precious to the overall population. I scooped him up in my hand, turned to the window, found the place where he'd hit. The window reflection itself was dulled from the wind-carried Erie spray, and covered with a screen on top of that: there was nothing that could have been done to prevent his fatal misperception. But it’s still a sad event. He was an adult male, not a juvenile, so he likely had offspring this year. But there are so many perils waiting for nestlings so small, with parents so defenseless. Predators, diseases and bad weather can all take their toll. And for wood warblers, nest parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds is always a threat. I wondered what had befallen this little fellow’s family.


Back inside, in the coffee-scented warmth of my house, I couldn’t shake thoughts of the little warbler's life and death. It reminded me of Darwin’s finches. I’ve always loved it that those unspectacular little birds were the ‘Eureka’ moment for him, showing him how each generation sends forth its genes into the unknown, and shapes the descendants in that future by their ability to adapt. What of my little black-throat outside, now lying in the hand of the garden Buddha? Was his inability to judge as false the world he saw in the streaky, screen-shadowed window truly non-adaptive? Or was it more likely an unaccountable accident of fate, no different from a squirrel randomly stumbling upon a nest full of piping babies? I wonder if these mysteries ever troubled Darwin. Whatever the answer may be, I was sorry for one migration and life that came to such an abrupt end in my yard. I hope his beautiful genes survive him out there somewhere.

17 comments:

YourFireAnt said...

Deborah, what a lovely post. That bird's life is going to last in your writing if nowhere else.

My friend Jim Drescher in his forestry courses teaches that the life of the forest is in its dead trees.

It's true for critters too, somehow.

T.

Lin Floyd said...

his spirit continues to live...

Aleta said...

Ohh, that makes me sad, to see the picture. I love animals of all kinds and I wouldn't want to see one dead. That's one of the reasons I cringed at the rodeo and cheered for the animals (will post about it in a few days).

I love the garden Buddha by the way.

Sylvia K said...

Beautiful if sad post, Deborah, and T. is right, the little guy's life is going on through your writing. I continue to see him in my mind's eye, lying in Buddha's lap.

Sylvia

fourwindsphotojournal said...

Even though I know death is a part of nature, it is a sad thing to feel a part of it. We have at least one bird a year hit the glass. Thankfully, they are usually just stunned, but not always.

Being where you are, you probably have a much higher chance of this happening. Huge flocks of exhausted birds pass over during the migrations.

That is not a warbler I am familiar with. My guide says we do have them here, though.

So neat that put him in Buddha's hand.

bobbie said...

I am glad he was placed in Buddha's hand. Your post is one I will remember.

SandyCarlson said...

Those precious birds. I love your heart. I am sorry for that bird. My mind is everywhere right now. Life is fragile. How beautiful when you hold it in your hands.

Dianne said...

I've always thought that animals are such pure souls that their energy simply expands into all around us

sweet post

Shelley said...

Deborah - you have a kind and soft heart! I have grieved birds that have hit my window too. I bought decals and suncatchers to help - but sometimes it doesn't always work.

Naturegirl said...

Deborah I can feel your intense sorrow as I read this post. It is always heartbreaking in finding one of Natures precious hearts beat no more. I know how one with nature cannot turn off the sad feelings. I cringe whenever I hear a thump on a window and of course dash out immediatly to survey.
This summer I placed small stained glass window hangers on windows facing the garden where there is much traffic from my feathered friends.
Aww..I feel for this bird..rest in peace to this little warbler.sigh
Your tribute to this bird.. beautifully written.

magiceye said...

sad about the bird but maybe its soul is be freed to soar into a higher realm!

centria said...

Ahhh, Deborah, it is so sad when those birds hit our windows. What a beautiful blog. I especially like the photo of the garden Buddha. How peaceful and calming.

Poetikat said...

It's so sad when that happens. I captured the experience in my poem, "Bird in the Hand" a couple of summers ago.

Kat

Quiet Paths said...

You say so well and show it in your second photo that - every life is a singular and precious thing.

Dee said...

beautiful!

Kathiesbirds said...

deborah, so sad! And that photo of him in the budda's lap is both peaceful and haunting.

Gel said...

Such a beautiful bird. To see it lifeless breaks my heart. Your post is a living tribute to our nature friends.