I am not a bird lover. I don’t have bird pets. I don’t own a single pair of binoculars, and I don’t own any bird identification guides. I know a Robin from a Cardinal, but that is about it. Still, I found myself feeling especially grateful for birds this spring.
I live in Northwest Indiana. To the north and west of us is 50 miles urban sprawl that stretches uninterrupted all the way to the Chicago Loop. To the south is miles and miles of Midwest farmland, which is at least preferable to the sprawl. I live in a suburban neighborhood of quarter acre lots, manicured lawns, and single family residences. Nature around here is something that is largely manufactured (with the exception of the Indiana Dunes National Park to the north).
But the one constant reminder of wild nature is the birds. We have Mourning Doves that wake us in the morning. We have the Sparrows, Robins, and a rare Blue Jay. We have Hawks and Turkey Vultures too. Flocks of geese come and go in the spring and fall. And in the spring, the birds are the first to announce the return of warmth. A few weeks ago, I walked outside on a chilly morning to the sound of “twitterpated” chirping and knew that spring had arrived. Just the other day, on my way to work, I saw a transit bus stopped for two geese and five little goslings crossing the street. On my way to lunch, they were there again, crossing back. Wherever I go, the birds are there, even in the city, where humans seem intent on hiding themselves from every aspect of nature.
I have rabbits under my porch too. And each spotting is like a little revelation to my kids. With the exception of rabbits and birds (and domesticated animals), every other form of animal life around here is seen by humans as pest or roadkill. But the birds are welcome. And sometimes they seem like the only thing that might survive the human need to pave everything. I know there is much more wildlife around here than I realize … beaver and opossum in the nearby creek (drainage ditch) and deer who come from who knows where. But their appearance seems to end in tragedy on a highway more often than not.
I am grateful for the birds. They remind me that nature is there. And they fill me with the desire to go and look for more of it.