Today I turn 67, and I’m spending it counting birds. It’s time for the 9th Annual Backyard Bird Count. My backyard is an ever-changing campsite, with an ever-changing bird community. For now, we’re in Seminole Canyon State Park near the Rio Grande in Texas.
I notice that I’m beginning to feel anchored to birds, they’ve become my familiar friends in a life where the human faces are all strange. The welfare of these little fluffy things has become poignantly important to me.
This morning it’s an unseasonable 34°F with a strong gusty north wind. I saw only 6 birds during my first 20-minute count time, at 8:30am. I imagine them dozing, huddled together in nooks, crannies, and shrubs with their down all fluffed up and bills tucked into their necks trying to keep warm. Later, flocks of lark buntings and white-crowned sparrows showed up, pecking at water drops from the faucet-to-hose connection outside our window. One got left behind as the others zoomed away in a small cloud. He seemed disoriented, lost almost until he saw his group winging again over some bushes in the distance. Immediately, he took off after them and left me to wonder… What?.