The Birds

Not my eagle. Shanan took the picture
Here’s the summary of my birding experiences on or near the island:

1. Sitting on Jane’s beach at 6 a.m., I was interrupted by an eagle splashing down in front of me to grab a fish. His wings got soaking wet. He tried to row himself into shore and was not doing very well. I went looking for a stick to drag him in with, but was picturing him tearing me to shreds once I got him out. (OK, I know nothing about birds, but I meant well.) He finally made it to shore on his own, and hopped around eating the fish off his foot. He did not like it at all when I laughed.

2. This was more of a bird flinching than a bird sighting: a turkey vulture landed in my yard and started eating a rabbit that didn’t seem to have stopped breathing yet. That was probably my cat’s fault. I sat down on the kitchen floor with my head between my knees until I felt it was safe to stand up. I could have gone out and intervened, but it was going to have to be killed anyway, and I didn’t think I’d be a more efficient killer than a vulture. There does seem to be a pattern here.

3. I was staring up into a china blue sky and saw a falcon slam into a dove. It sounded like a bat hitting a baseball, and there was a perfectly round puff of white feathers. No birds to be seen.

4. A barred owl swooped down between me and my open front door one night. That was like magic. Their silent flight is enchanting.

5. Years ago, I went to Good Friday mass at St. Joachim’s with Jane, and when we drove home, a big, light-colored owl flew beside the car for a few moments. Very eerie, very beautiful.

If it weren’t for the owls, I’d find this all a bit ominous.

And if your admiration for birds isn’t shot through with fear, there’s a birding cruise that leaves from Bellingham every Saturday this summer. I’ve gone out with Victoria, the naturalist, to look at the whales around here; she seems to know them as if they were part of her family. And Victor, the other naturalist, is writing a book on Lummi Island birds. They are so impressive, and eventually I will forget what that turkey vulture did and go on a bird walk with them.

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