This fine looking young lady just happens to be my Mother whose 90th birthday we celebrated this week. A couple of summers ago while she was visiting, my neighbor Chris knocked on the side door and of all things he had a starling perched on his shoulder. The bird was completely sociable and took to my Moms shoulder comfortably for a meet and greet. Our little friend seemed healthy and flew off into the trees to wait for us if we went into the house and was eager to resume our inter-species dialog when we reemerged. He was our constant companion and shared in all manor of human activities from carpentry to gardening showing no fear of the noise or fuss. Why did this bird crave our attention?
That starling beak is a wicked looking weapon viewed from close range and I had the uneasy feeling he might decide to poke my eyeball. I couldn't quite get my mind around being the object of this birds affection. Chris's young twin boys were afraid of the dive bombings we were being subjected to as well. This was a wild animal after all!
I had heard old stories of Michigan's logging camps that told of how the shanty boys would hand train forest birds as personal pets. This young starling came pretrained as a sorcerers apprentice. What to do? On one hand I liked having this connection with a wild creature and the mystery it implied, on the other I felt he needed to resume a more natural routine. My adult instincts ruled the day. I took the starling deep into the Chippewa Nature Centers property about a half mile from the house and released him there. That was it. I felt lost for a few days after that, and a little guilty, like I had taken unfair advantage of a friends trust. The tree tops now cradled only distrustful strangers when I looked up. I still live in hope he will swoop down and take his place on my shoulder again. I think now, I could make a different choice, and let serendipity run it's course.
Oh! What did Mom want for her 90th birthday you ask? An ipad! Intellect marvelously intact, she is ready to make her run at the century mark.
I must have caught this Common grackle in an unusual light because they're usually beyond black. There have been quite a few new comers working the leaf litter this week.
I was able to work in a little gull time this week keeping my eye sharp. Southerly winds are pushing the migrators toward the Great Lakes basin and I have plotted some early field trips starting today. It will be good to submerge myself into the wetlands again. Already the Red-winged blackbirds and American robins are back in town.
Something about this circlcular composition of gulls pleased me. Thanks to the Bagel Lady for her assistence!
Rafts of ducks are everywhere along the Great lakes flyway. Above, a common merganser takes to flight in the freshly thawed marsh. Below, Greater scaups wander in toward shore in range of my 400mm lens.
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