Wednesday, March 21, 2012

An Early Bird

During my morning run, I stopped to watch a bird flying erratically high above the telephone lines. I could see it was a Say's Phoebe, chasing a large flying insect about the size of a butterfly. The insect was doing its best to evade the hungry phoebe - dodging and weaving frantically with the bird in close pursuit. It was very quiet in the neighborhood and I could hear the phoebe's bill snapping shut each time it drew close to capturing its prey.

Over and over the two of them climbed high almost out of sight, then dove down to just above the telephone lines. The chase went on for a couple of minutes, ending up high where I couldn't see the results. The phoebe came down and landed on top of a telephone pole. It immediately started calling (instead of eating), so I'm guessing the imperiled insect must have escaped.

It was fortunate that I happened to glance up and see this; I could easily have run right by and never noticed.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

We have seen a LOT of different bird species in the last few weeks - in our yard, on the mesquite lot, and flying overhead. Current list:

Am. White Pelican  (soaring overhead)
Mallard  (flyover)
Cooper's Hawk  (buzzing the feeders)
Red-shouldered Hawk  (soaring, calling)
Killdeer  (flyover, calling)
Ring-billed Gull  (soaring overhead)
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Common Ground Dove
White-throated Swift  (soaring overhead)
Costa's Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird
Mystery Flycatcher sp. (Empidonax)
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Vermilion Flycatcher
Western Kingbird  (just arrived)
Loggerhead Shrike
Common Raven
Tree Swallow  (soaring overhead)
Cliff Swallow  (soaring overhead)
Bewick's Wren
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Abert's Towhee
White-crowned Sparrow
Great-tailed Grackle
Brewer's Blackbird
Hooded Oriole  (just arrived)
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
House Sparrow

We're still watching for the arrival of White-winged Doves and Black-headed Grosbeaks.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Often we are too busy or distracted to take the time to watch and enjoy what Mother Nature is doing. There are amazing and dramatic things going on all around us all the time.

Whether it's a beautiful sunrise, changing colors and shapes in clouds, a newly-arrived migrating bird, a tiny wildflower, a dark starry night - life is richer and more interesting when we take a few minutes to simply observe and appreciate the natural world.

Not sure where this saying comes from, but I've always liked it:

"Nature Happens, whether we notice or not."

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