Thursday, May 14, 2009

Slow down and watch the ordinary become the extraordinary

Matty and I hit the trail on Tuesday right after school. It was warm and very sunny. We were hoping for one more day of spectacular warbler sightings with birdsong sweeping through the forest and us chasing after each trill, but we should have known better. It was 3:30…sort of an off-hour, and we were both a bit tired and hungry, and the height of migration was definitely over (but we refused to admit it). Right off the bat, however, we heard the loud, beautiful song of a Baltimore Oriole and saw him high in a Sycamore…promising! But as we stepped further down the trail, the woods fell strangely quiet. After having experienced the nonstop birdsong of the migrants over the past couple of weeks, the hollow emptiness was foreign. In response, I could feel us picking up our pace, searching for something that was not there, fueled by just a touch of frustration...but then we saw Red sitting in a shaft of sunlight. The saturated color in his feathers was so striking it made us slow down to take a longer look, and finally, as we stopped and watched him, we felt Sweet Nature melting away the frustration (and slight sadness) of knowing spring migration was just about over.




Stepping off the trail and into the grass, we became more engrossed in the Northern Cardinal's extraordinary beauty. Drawn in, we watched him move from branch to branch, Matty with binocs and me framing him in the camera lens. Then we noticed the wriggly green caterpillars in his bill, and even better, we noticed he wasn’t eating them. He was just carrying them around, which could mean only one thing…Papa Red must be delivering the juicy green things to a few hungry mouths! Slowly the male worked his way into the hollow, continuing to hop from branch to branch towards what we hoped would be a nest full of baby Reds. He definitely knew we were watching him, and I felt a bit guilty and wondered if he was taking the long way home trying not to give away the nest’s location, but we couldn’t resist and soon he flew into an overgrown honeysuckle bush and rustled around a bit. When he hopped back out, his bill was empty! We wanted to go down there and peer into the nest to see the babies, but instead, we got back on the trail so the male, who was now chipping loudly, would feel comfortable about leaving the nest site to find more caterpillars for his offspring.




So “ordinary” Red, the same bird who started it all for me with a peanut at my Aunt Mary’s house so many years ago, saved the day and reminded us that there is birding after spring migration, and all you have to do is slow down and observe and you will see the extraordinary.

29 comments:

Laure Ferlita said...

Great post!!!

Love all the photos, but the second to last is spectacular! Always, always, if we slow down to look and really *see*, Nature never disappoints!

Steve B said...

Yes, there is much truth to this. There is so much to see if you stop and smell the roses.

Shellmo said...

So sweet to see that cardinal with all those green worms in his mouth going to feed his babies! Wonderful photos!!

Montanagirl said...

This series of photos really grabs me. What an exciting experience for you! Love it.

The Early Birder said...

Absolutely, the obvious can often prove the most extraordinary and interesting.

Heather said...

A lovely essay. I'm glad you both were able to enjoy Mr. Red. (And I don't know if I've said it before or not, but I think it is so great that Matty is into birding!)

Rattlinantler said...

Wow, what a title! That really sums it up! That is along my line of thinking!That slow down & watch is how to really catch "Nature in Action"! Thanks for all your kind comments, for those who don't know me, I really lead a busy life and find a few short minutes to view blogs and comment. Your title froze me in my tracks and I'll have to quote you someday...Thanks a bunch Kelly

E said...

Beatiful cardenal, a good father, great colors, composition and story. Congrats
Kelita, hugs.

Nature As Is said...

All I can say is how stunning a story and shots Kelly. I love the shots of Mr. Red. Thanks for sharing :)

Kelly said...

Laure...thank you...slowing down always does the trick. It lets you see deep into nature.

Steve...it's one thing that I'm actually good at when I'm in nature!

Shelley...thank you! I know...so red and so green!

Montanagirl...thank you! it's all that red...irresistible!

Frank... :-) study and observation...it always leads to something.

Heather...thank goodness Matty likes to bird with me (too bad Rick is quite as willing...I think he's turning back into Rick the Reluctant Birder!)

Rattlinanter...Wow! thank you so much! I don't think I've ever been quoted before. I like your photos, because you do capture so much action...

Enita...thank you! I know you love Red too!

Crista...thank you very much. You're always so kind!

holdingmoments said...

What a stunner he his, Kelly. The green caterpillars really contrast with his red feathers.

Laubaine said...

que de belles couleurs pour cet oiseau ...

Abe Lincoln said...

Lovely "red" and glad to know he started it for you. A nice post. I enjoyed it.

How I do the funky portraits is I used to photo booth software that comes on my iMac. I can either use the backgrounds provided or use my own. The herons are one of my own. I am not sure how the details work. You can see more at the link below:

Abraham Lincoln

hip chick said...

Oh how lovely! I love the cardinal's. They always look so beautiful against the green pines and the white snow.

Moria said...

Beautiful post. Thank you!

Ginnymo said...

I love watching the Cardinals. I see the male feed the female a lot. Not sure if there are any babies this year. Seems like the female would be in the nest if there were. They are so pretty! Especially the male. I watched a family last year with at least three young ones flying around. That was fun. Great post Kelly!!

Warren Baker said...

Blimey kelly. You have sorted my mental state out for me. The spotted flycatcher that arrived on my patch yesterday was about the last migrant I can expect, and I was thinking how I was going to motivate myself to get out!

Chris said...

Very nice message Kelly. And I guess you're right. There is no time to slow down and observe, there is all the time something happening in Nature. Just be patient and you will see it.
Have a nice week-end

Jenny said...

Hi Kelly, first off thanks for looking in on my blog. We have the same thoughts about birds and conservation I think! I'll be stopping in regularly now I've found you.

Warren Baker said...

Forgot to answer you question kelly! Yes Pied Wagtails are a common british bird.

Roy said...

Welcome back Red. Good to see you.

ShySongbird said...

A lovely post Kelly and so beautifully written. What a beautiful bird that is and your photos illustrate that so well.

Little Brown Job said...

Great post Kelly, nice to see the star of the show again :-)

It certainly is nice to stop chasing the birds sometimes, just sit back and take everything in as it passes by.

Kathiesbirds said...

What fun! So glad that you repected his home and his brood! You left with a smile in your heart, which is what was most important!

Vickie said...

Beautiful images! I watched a cardinal today, breaking off a twig for her nest. She was in the shade and a distance away, but it was so intriguing to see how she did it. Great post.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone. Seems I forgot to answer the second half of the comments!

yen said...

The Northern Cardinal is a beautiful bird, very nice.

Kelly said...

thanks, yen!

alex216 said...

I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.
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