Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Martha's first post: hotline birds

My name is Martha, and I want to say something about hotline birds. Now please don't think this is sour grapes--I know we chickadees never make any hotlines and really, it's no big deal. I mean, far be it from us to want birders wasting valuable natural resources chasing one of us down--that's why we try so hard to keep our numbers up and our range predictable and broad, and also why we waste so much time coming up so close to birders. People who don't see a chickadee on a day's outing--well, I don't mean to be judgmental, but they're just not trying.

Right now there are two strangers in my neck of the woods who really don't seem...well, they don't seem very well adapted, if you know what I mean. It's not like 27 degrees is all that cold, but for some reason the Little Blue Heron in Sapsucker Woods today was standing on the edge of the water, fluffed up and hunkered down, looking so miserable that I felt sorry for him. I'd have opened up my home to him, but he's too big to fit through the entrance. As is the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher up in Moravia. We chickadees have been doing our best to talk to these two, encouraging them to migrate south, but they just don't listen. I don't know if they're eating up all the attention, if they just love being in the birding spotlight, or what. But maybe you people shouldn't be encouraging them. I mean, really--what does a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher have that we don't? Well, besides that spectacular tail and those beautiful, rich colors? (And I have to admit that the one in Moravia is splendid!) And what's so special about a Little Blue Heron? They're punier than Great Blue Herons, not as gleaming white as Great Egrets, and even when they reach adulthood lack those aigrettes that people used to make such a fuss over.

So my advice is, skip the hotline birds and start paying attention to your chickadees again. We do our best to bring in stray warblers, nuthatches, creepers, kinglets, and other birds just in case you're one of those birders who think variety is the spice of life. And really, what other bird can you COUNT on, day in and day out, winter, spring, summer, and fall, whether you're in a suburban backyard or pristine forest? You can rely on us chickadees through thick and thin, and we won't sit around looking miserable, either. So stop listening to hotlines and come enjoy your backyard chickadees!

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