a writing by Hema Ravi

Looking out for the winged creatures in the fairy-tale trails flanked by astonishingly tall trees and dense vegetation is rather engaging, offers a sense of accomplishment as well.....

Holidaying in Seattle, it’s been a delightful pastime watching elusive birds in this green environment that abounds in pines, firs, maples, cedars, oaks, elms, hemlocks and a host of evergreens and conifers. The dense vegetation offers the hummingbirds, cedar waxwings, stellar jays, finches and wrens convenient and cozy niches that are practically invisible to the naked eye. It is a moment of revelation and accomplishment when these birds get pictured with a quality lens, which is what my better half has been religiously doing.

The condominium, with two-storey cookie-cutter houses, is utterly silent most of the day, in stark contrast to the city life back home. The sight of cars exiting and entering is among the few signs that it is inhabited. Almost all the apartments have towering conifers; each apartment on the ground floor has a small green patch with exotic flowering shrubs that attract the hummingbirds. Not just that, some people have placed sugar water in feeders, which entice them.

It’s August. I am told that’s when the juveniles and adults are aplenty, fattening up for the long and exhausting migration south during winter. Watching these swift birds that are tinier than our index fingers is a perennial delight; the signal to their presence are the fast chirps called the chip note. These tiny little birds with their lowflying acrobatics have adapted easily to human inhabitation. Quite often, they stick to the yards as the feeders enable them to continue as nectarivores. While providing them with a ready source of food and partly domesticating them is fine, it is important for these species to continue to evolve amidst challenges due to climate change and other threats.

I recall another experience in India when I was visiting a relative’s farm house. I had carried biscuits and chocolates for the children there. Imagine my surprise, when the cows came lunging forward for their share and were addressed by their names. They looked healthy as they were being cared for well with the help of domestic helpers who fed them with cow feed, grass and more; biscuits and chocolates were their snacks. It left me thinking about the pros and cons, just as the ruby-throated hummingbird on the feeder just did.

First published in…/listening-to-elusive-bird…

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