Yellow Blog, Up High in Banana Tree

I love the beautiful world at night.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Beanie likes to bird!

Today Beanie and I went birding together at a nearby marsh. I think he had as good a time birding as I did! Maybe an even better time than me, since I carried him until my biceps and shoulders were on fire (note to self: bring stroller next time).

Bean is excited about early spring. He stroked the new leaves and emerging catkins of a weeping willow, and said, "Beautiful and soft." He saw the new green spikes of cattail leaves coming out of the muck, and said, "Look! Look! They're growing! It's spring!" When he says things like that, I just glow with love for my Bean.

He took apart a ratty-looking cattail seedhead from last year, then blew on the fluffy seeds to watch them lift up into the air. I explained to him how the cattail seeds float up higher and higher, some of them probably going over the mountains to dry eastern Washington. Maybe some seeds will find a wet place, a riverside or little pond somewhere in the vast sagebrush flats, and there some new cattails can grow. "And where there are cattails, there are...."

Beanie knows the answer: "Red-winged blackbirds!" Beanie loves to see those guys in the reeds, and he can imitate their song: "ko-ka-REEEEEEEEEE!"

We headed out to a viewing platform over the water, where we stayed for a long time and ate a snack. Beanie and I talked about the "No Fishing" sign posted there, and how it applied to humans, but not to cormorants, kingfishers, or bald eagles.

The last time we were at that spot, we saw a cormorant come up from a dive with a HUGE wriggling fish. Bean was fascinated (and maybe a little troubled -- predation bugs him, sometimes). The cormorant struggled with the fish, beat it against the water, and flipped it around in the air until it was oriented correctly for swallowing (head first, so it slid right down). As the fish went down the bird's gullet, we could still see it bending and wiggling.

Today, we were lucky enough to see a kingfisher catch a fish. He had a totally different fishing style than the cormorant. We watched the little male kingfisher try a few different perches over the water. He looked down in a focused way for a while, but didn't dive. Finally he flew out over the open water, hovered as though suspended (flapping) on a string, plunged into the water with a dramatic splash, then burst out of the water with a minnow in his beak. Beanie pointed and smiled broadly. We talked about how, if the kingfisher becomes a daddy, he'll bring little fish to his babies. (That takes some of the sting out of predation for him, if babies are getting fed.)

The find of the day for me was a bird we heard but never saw: the elusive Virgina Rail. We heard the frog-like castanet clicks coming from two places (two males having a territorial dialogue, probably). We sat quietly for a long time watching the cattail thickets. No luck getting a visual on 'em, though.

I've NEVER seen one, and now I'm officially obsessed, dammit. Here's a website that shows what I'm looking for. You can also hear their weird clicky song:

He's not much to look at, huh? Birders are crazy.

On a different note, the way Beanie seems to deal with his own meat consumption these days (since no one loves a juicy steak like Bean does -- well, except maybe for M) is to call himself a scavenger instead of a predator. You see, we FIND the meat, much as a vulture or hyena does. Okay, okay -- vultures and hyenas don't get their meat in nice little styrofoam shrink-wrapped packages. But the point is, we don't kill it ourselves. That is obviously ethically superior to predation.

"Mommy used to be a predator," he frowns and says, referring to how I used to go fishing years ago. "Now we're all scavengers," he announces, glowing with pride.

Scavengers ARE cool. Preach it, Beanie. Scavenger pride!


  • At 1:04 AM, Blogger Vilda Chaya said…

    Funny that Safeway never advertises that way, "Come scavange here!" or "Your place to scavange!"

    I love how much joy Beanie gets out of the natural world--how detailed his questions are about the changing colors of the leaves in fall, and when we take walks and he says how much he, "loves the beautiful world at night." What a great way this is to write this all down and save it. Thank you, sweetie!


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