The Nuthatch Speaks

Somewhere in the overhead branches of a neighborhood tree a Nuthatch is speaking. They do that often in a voice that leaves little room for reply so we content ourselves just to listen. Try as we might we never did see that particular bird. A voice evoking mystery in a tree’s tangled up-reaching branches. Such mystery is accepted because we know, given enough time, one will undoubtedly descend to an eye-level branch and pursue a more formal introduction.

White-breasted Nuthatch

The Brown Creeper’s presence often only becomes apparent when small subtle movements are detected on a tree trunk or branch. Stopping, they often seem to disappear and in doing so say “pay attention there is more to this place than you are aware!”

Brown Creeper
What creepers eat.

Sometimes we just smile as, in the midst of our observing, it becomes obvious that we are also being observed.

Fox Squirrel

Illuminated by the low December sun, the vibrant color of an Eastern Bluebird contrasts with the dull muted landscape and reminds us that beauty is an exception and wouldn’t be if it were otherwise.

In the winter, as if by magic, some birds just appear. We don’t see them arrive and we won’t see them leave. In this brief moment in time, they are with us and become part of our lives should we choose.

Dark-eyed Junco, (Snow bird)

Sometimes the realization doesn’t match the expectation. By December most migrating warblers are long gone but the Yellow-rumped enjoys food items other than just insects so many remain in central Ohio through the winter.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Our awareness has its limits as the nearby presence of an immature Red-tailed Hawk remined me. While I was distracted by another bird it remained unnoticed until it moved its head. How much do we miss or are never aware of?

Red-tailed Hawk-

In the winter woods it is often our intention is to see Golden-crowned Kinglets. It’s a bird that is no stranger to us so part of its allure or that of any other charming, but often inconspicuous, creature must be that they draw us into a world that embraces and also transcends us. Unlike spring when the scent of a flower may grab our attention, in December we must rely on the limits of our hearing and sight. With these meager tools we will find our boundaries expanding if we pay close attention. Each visit to the habitat of kinglets allows us to become part of a world that continues on in an unfolding mystery.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

***

Wishing everyone a very Happy Holiday!

Northern Cardinal

***

May It Always Be So

Now when I go into the woods, camera in hand, I find that there is much less concern about “getting the picture” and more about just being there. Perhaps that’s because in some miraculous way, the skills required to get an acceptable photograph of something crawling, walking, running or flying have slowly transformed me into the “camera”.

Now being in nature is more the experience I seek. The experience may involve observing the goings and comings of a belted kingfisher and being left with the realization that I need his world much more than he does mine. In fact, it’s sobering to realize that from the kingfisher’s point of view, things would get along quite nicely if I didn’t exist at all. Despite all our technology I can’t, with any confidence, say the same about the kingfisher.

Embraced by wonder, awe, and humility I am left with a heightened sense of gratitude, that for a brief moment the kingfisher perched on a branch and allowed me to share his world. May it always be so.

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