Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ornithology

When I was three years old, I learned to read from a bird book.

Not Big Bird (who was not even dreamt of when I was learning to read), but an actual textbook describing birds of the southern West Coast of British Columbia. I don't remember the book, but I do remember who taught me to read -- my Grampa, who lived in our basement until I was four.

Grampa was an amateur ornithologist, and I still have some letters from the B.C. Provincial Museum, thanking him for photos of various unusual birds he'd spotted. Apparently this was one of his talents; and while I can't claim nearly the breadth or depth of knowledge he had, I definitely like birds, and pay attention to them when I'm outdoors.

This morning, for instance -- I was down by the river with the dog, and it seemed like every second tree had its own personal woodpecker, hammering away looking for the earliest spring bugs. (Question: Are woodpeckers migratory? I think they must be, but I should go research that.)

The cardinals have been around a while now, but I still love the male's call -- birdee, birdee, birdee! -- as he tries to convince any nearby females that he'd be an excellent mate.

And last night, when I was walking the dog with Rachel, we heard a distant tell-tale honking overhead, the one sure sign that spring is back. We looked up, and sure enough, vee-shaped ribbons of Canada geese were streaming across the sky. Hundreds of them, honking and flapping and encouraging one another along.

I love Canada geese. I always feel mournful watching them depart in the fall, and seeing them return every spring makes me almost giddy with delight. If I happen to see them when I'm alone (i.e., when no one is around to hear the crazy lady yelling up at the sky), I talk to them: "Hi, guys! You're back! Welcome home!"

So last night as Rachel and I stood in the middle of our street, gawking up at the geese as they urged one another northward, I wasn't at all surprised to hear my daughter exclaim, "Guys! You're back! You came back for us!" in exactly the same tone of voice I would have used, and with exactly the same spark of gleeful excitement in her eye. She squeezed my hand, and I squeezed hers back.

That's my girl.

5 comments:

Stacy said...

100,000 points to Rachel for being so freaking excellent!

The Canada geese never left here... and I have lots o' poop to show for it. (The dog thinks it might just be a tasty treat.)

kaykatrn said...

How precious!! You have taught your daughter one of the important lessons of life. We are all parts of the whole of Mother Nature, and it is beautiful and exciting. My daughter and I have watched the redtailed hawks around here since she could see them. I feel great pride that she knows where they live and worries where they will get food when houses arise on their hunting grounds.

Lisa said...

Thanks for the smile, Karen!

Kathleen Taylor said...

You know we call them Canadian Geese down here- a person of Canadian origin sternly corrected me one time when I said it in front of her. Never occurred to me that it might seem insulting (we also have Dutch Elm Disease, Russian Olive Trees, and Canadian Thistle, with the *ian* properly in place).
The geese flew through here a couple of weeks ago- they don't stay, but we do herald them (going either direction).

Geek Knitter said...

sniffle

I always say hello to the violets when the start to bloom. I'll tell them how much I missed them, and all about the winter. They seem to appreciate it.