River Talk

The balm of birds

By SANDY LONG
Posted 4/1/20

My frail bird-loving mother has come to nest with me for the time being—that as-yet-undefined span of days we will share as we shelter together away from most human contact in hopes of avoiding …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in
River Talk

The balm of birds

Posted

My frail bird-loving mother has come to nest with me for the time being—that as-yet-undefined span of days we will share as we shelter together away from most human contact in hopes of avoiding COVID-19 exposure or transmission.

To pass the hours not consumed by caregiving and navigating the mysterious mindscape of Alzheimer’s disease, we calm anxious thoughts and lift sagging spirits with music, books, meditation, home-cooked meals and an assortment of televised offerings.

A surprisingly engaging series about research related to babies holds her attention for the full hour of its broadcast. A wrenching documentary about the impacts of climate change on wildlife species brings us both to tears as we watch massive walruses tumble to their deaths in slow motion while leaping toward the sea to escape intensely overcrowded conditions. The Lawrence Welk Show and Pennsylvania Polka have her singing old favorites and tapping out the peppy polka rhythms with a wide smile and shining eyes.

But it is the birds that seem to bring the most rapturous engagement of all. We placed a feeder on the window next to which she perches, and it has provided hours of calm observation, with occasional exclamations of exuberance when the dashing male cardinal flashes his fiery feathers, or the tufted titmouse turns her large glassy eye in Mom’s direction.

Observing this has reminded me of the almost endless ways in which our feathered friends contribute to the quality of our lives. While we have the pandemic-imposed opportunity to devote time to taking advantage of deepening our appreciation for these gifts, following are a few possibilities for doing so.

Check out professional nature recordist, Lang Elliott’s website celebrating the voices of the natural world at www.musicofnature.com. Tune in to WJFF Radio (90.5FM) on Saturdays at 11 a.m. to hear Pat and Jim Sanders’ informative pieces about birds on Rosie Starr’s popular “Farm and Country” show. Grab a copy of local author John Harvey’s book, “The Stillness of the Living Forest: A Year of Listening and Learning.” Tap into a wealth of bird resources at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology: www.birds.cornell.edu.

Visit the PA Environment Digest Blog at www.bit.ly/paaudubonblog to learn more about the launch of the new online learning series, “Flying High: Learning Adventures,” featuring fun interactive lessons focused on bird-related topics.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment