Power To The — Birds!
Header Image: Royal Terns, Laughing Gulls, Ring-billed Gull
Admit it. You like to watch birds. Some of you may even feed them and give them water. I personally know about people who provide homes for birds. If you like to watch birds, and I know you do, it is very likely you use a pair of binoculars in order to see them more clearly. Do you perhaps also own a piece of equipment known as a spotting scope? From using these specialty types of “optics”, it is a natural and short leap to picking up a camera, you know, so you can record that pretty bird to show a friend. Then you see that fellow on the lake shore with a VERY BIG camera and lens. You then find yourself one evening all alone. Just you and your computer and — the internet. It wouldn’t hurt to just look at some of those VERY BIG cameras and lenses. Would it?
At this time, we shall not discuss the dark side of bird-watching. I mean, who would want to become involved in keeping a list of all the birds one sees in a day. Or a year. Seriously? Why, some have been known to treat this relaxing past time as a SPORT! No. We won’t go there today.
Birds. When we were children it was fun to see a bird bathing in the sprinkler or a puddle. Grandma would show us the wren’s nest on the porch with those pretty eggs and we would be amazed when baby birds appeared. Then, we forgot about birds. School, chores, sports, cars, boys, girls – life happened and we were too busy. University, jobs, love, a family of our own.
We tried to teach our own children about the important things in life. Birds migrated back into our routine. Now. This is the time many of us became “bird watchers”. Teaching others what we love is the true path to learning about ourselves.
Part of our learning about bird watching and, therefore, important for teaching others, is where to go and look for birds. Instinctively, we go to “nature”. Forest, field, shore. That’s where the birds are! At some point we have an epiphany and realize birds are all around us! At home, at work, on the drive to and from a job as well as at all those “natural” places. They may be different birds, but they are there to be seen.
So it was, on a Thursday about mid-morning, that I parked beside our city’s largest power plant. It is an imposing structure with metal walls, exterior framework crisscrossing like some chaotic puzzle, tall light poles, wiring leading outward in every direction, the constant whine of huge turbines – you know, habitat.
Water around the plant remains a bit warmer than the rest of the lake and that attracts fish and other aquatic life. Things that eat fish are therefore attracted to the plant, too. Some of those things are birds.
A few of them are shown below. (Whew! You probably thought you’d never get here, didn’t you?)
It was a chilly and breezy day. This Green Heron found a nice spot out of the wind.
A canal adjacent to the plant’s exterior wall is an excellent place for a wading bird to grab brunch.
Little Blue Heron
Weedy patches around the building harbor plenty of insects for a flock of hungry Cattle Egret to hunt.
All of that framework provides places for many birds to hide and nest. Among them is the Eurasian Collared Dove.
A Palm Warbler won’t let a fence impede his bug stalking.
Duckweed and algae provide cover for a multitude of life forms. The curiously curved bill of the Glossy Ibis is a perfect tool for probing beyond the green carpet.
What would an urban location be without pigeons? (Cleaner?) Call ’em Pigeons, Feral Pigeons, Rock Dove, Rock Pigs or the current taxonomically favored “Rock Pigeon”, these birds really are attractive. These almost appear to be musical notes on a scale.
Birds are special creatures. They provide us joy with their diverse appearance. Their songs let us know they are near even if they aren’t visible. We are amazed at their ability to fly. Engage in bird watching at whatever level suits you. Most of all, share your passion!
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!