I am something of a bird-nut. I love watching them out on the rivers, harbor, and marshes. I love the slow glides of the swans, and the brilliant little flicks of the nuthatches and titmouses. I even love to watch sparrows and chickadees, pedestrian as they may seem. I love flicking french-fries at them in the parking lot at the harbor. But my favorite of all is the great blue heron.
If you have never seen them, you don’t know what you are missing. We are lucky enough to have a healthy population in my area, and they fascinate me. They are huge—which makes them hard to miss when they stand along the edges of the harbor or the river, usually on a boggy spot of marsh. In flight they are gigantic—so much larger than our largest birds of prey. If those long legs seem awkward on land, the wing span you see in full flight is all magesty and grace.
Saturday evening, on my way home, a male great blue flew over my head. He was no more than ten feet above me, but it felt as if I could reach up and touch him. The sun was setting, and his color was amazing: a faded denim blue that picked up peach and rose from the sun. He took my breath away.
The long, meandering paths along the Green Harbor river and amazing views of the marshes are one of my great joys. Even as a child I wandered these woods, getting covered in muck and dragging home all manner of critters and clippings. My mom would make me empty my pockets, only to discover a mangled bit of wild sassafrass root, a carefully pocketed feather, or—sorry Mom—something furry. Moles, mice, newts, and chipmunks… baby ducks who incited near-violence from their mother, and turtle babies my father helped me return to the marsh. I was quite the manky little beastie, with quite the wild menagerie.
I don’t bring wild things home these days… unless you count Ahmed. But I do so love to watch them. I guess I always will.