Tuesday, July 10, 2007
My house in Maine is out in the country but it's set back quite a way from the woods and I don't have the huge numbers of birds hanging out in the backyard that I did back in New York, where the woods were about 30 feet from the back wall and there was a huge old tree in the yard.
But what they lack in numbers, they make up for in color. I did have goldfinches and purple finches in New York, but here there are also indigo buntings, which add a shade of blue that's a little surreal in nature ... or at least in zoological nature. This picture, of a very colorful group who showed up at the same time the other day, was shot through the window and is not very clear, but you can see which bird I'm referring to.
When I was very little, we had a game called "Bird Lotto" that featured cards with a lot of very colorful birds. I don't remember much of the game itself -- my memories of playing it are set in a house we left when I was in the first grade, and either the game didn't make the move or we had simply lost interest in it -- but I learned a lot of birds' names, including the indigo bunting. It may have been my first exposure to nature and, whether or not Bird Lotto sparked the interest, I soon began to acquire lots of books on the topic, and to follow Disney's nature films closely. For that matter, one of the first comics I followed with any sustained attention was the Sunday version of Mark Trail.
The result is that there are lots of animals I know about but have never seen. The first time one of these intensely blue little birds appeared on the feeder this spring, I immediately thought, "That's got to be an indigo bunting!" and looked it up and, sure enough, there it was, only 52 years or so after I learned its name.
Which goes to show you that no knowledge is ever wasted, if you live long enough.