|Eastern bluebird (above) and great-crested flycatcher (below left); National Geographic|
I'm struck by how many books we have about birds—pages and pages of them! The ones I covet at present are Birds of the World: 365 Days and Birdsong by the Seasons: A Year of Listening to Birds, but it's hard to be satiated. (I'll bet The Bird: A Natural History of Who Birds Are, Where They Came From, and How They Live would add greatly to one's storehouse of bird lore.) Birdwatching can be a consuming passion, as evidenced by the mainstream film The Big Year, in which the unholy trio of Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson compete to spot the rarest birds in the world (has anyone seen it?).
Besides their beauty, birds are alluring because they make music naturally. While trapped in the blighted landscape of "No Man's Land," the hero of Sebastian Faulks' war novel Birdsong has recurrent waking dreams in which he's back in the French countryside, hearing birds call to each other in the lush greenery. And of course Charlie Parker acquired the nickname "Bird" because of his wondrous, ecstatic flights on the saxophone.
Take this quick National Geographic quiz to test your knowledge of birds that might be lurking in your very own back yard. (I did abysmally. Guess I should stop looking at the pretty pictures and pay attention to the texts.) They also have a "backyard bird identifier" feature.
|'Morning Song' by Carl Thompson|
“The robin flew from his swinging spray of ivy on to the top of the wall and he opened his beak and sang a loud, lovely trill, merely to show off. Nothing in the world is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows off - and they are nearly always doing it.”― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden