Monday, May 5, 2014

Migration and McDawn's - Thoughts on Ecology, Birds and Humankind

(After having not written in awhile-that's another story-I came on-line looking for another piece and instead found this one.  Evidently I've been mesmerized by robins for quite sometime.  I reread this and realized I needed my own messages again.  So this is for me and possibly you......)

Robin symbolizes the spread of new growth.  
(from Animal-Speak by Ted Andrews)

Day 1:  At first they are one great big happy family having made it from afar. Finding and feeling homecoming in the hack berry trees, robins eat and expel berries onto my home, yard and car. They entertain my cats and mesmerize me. Everyone gets along.

Day 2: Relief sets in from having survived the trip.  Exhaustion and fear abate. A back and forth begins.  At times the robins chest bump, staking out certain spots in my small Nashville terrain. They claim territory, ascertaining which square foot will yield the highest quotient of worms.

Day 3:  Human complaints begin to be heard.  Hack berry deposits dot cars everywhere.  I expect to hear an announcement by the CDC warning of robin-spread disease.  I imagine entrepreneurs brain-storming how a quick buck might be made off this sudden boost in birds as was tried with the cicada 'invasion' two years ago.

Meanwhile I sit outside every morning taking in robin's presence and song.  I imagine their sharing energy with me. And for some odd reason, at one random moment I take Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" from my shelf and open it.  I have never read it through.  I open it to a page referencing robins. Hmmm.

"For each of us, as for the robin in Michigan or the salmon in the Miramichi, this is a problem 
of ecology, of interrelationships, of interdependence.  We spray our elms and the following 
springs are silent of robin song, not because we sprayed the robins directly but because 
the poison traveled step by step, through the now familiar elm leaf-earthworm-robin cycle.
They reflect the web of life - or death- that scientists know as ecology." p.189

I look in the index and find a chapter about the spraying of DDT in the 50's to kill the bark beetle attacking elm trees.  Twenty three pounds of DDT were sprayed per acre where elms were numerous. This killed the 'bad' beetle and other beneficial organisms, insects, spiders and bugs on the trees.  DDT covered the leaves. Rains did not wash it away. Instead when leaves fell to the ground, the poison became one with the soil, toxic leaves were eaten by earthworms, which were eaten by the robins who then ended up dead or sterile. 

I read this and feel joy and relief.  Surely Rachel Carson would be happy because of the hundreds of robins gathered in my trees.  Then I went about my day quietly aware I had not been outside as much. I had not savored the robins.  I told myself I would go out the next day.  

Day 4:  I knew the masses were AWOL even before daybreak. The enormous chorus in the trees was replaced by a lone wren singing around the boundary of my house. Something sent the robins away.  Possibly the overnight rain and cooler temperatures prompted their travels onward.  Five remain hopping about my back yard while the wren sang for over an hour, announcing I imagined to the bird world that our feeders were again available and free.

Although robins do not eat bird seed, their presence had caused the relocation of chickadees, finches, nuthatches, titmice, cardinals and sparrows. Even the squirrels and one lone blue jay had evacuated our yard to where I've wondered all week. I have felt such joy in robin's presence while simultaneously longing for the other birds.

I never dreamed the robins would leave overnight. Or maybe I did.  Was this why I was quietly mindful yesterday that I had not been outside as much though I had the time?

I knew they would eventually leave but not last night.  How often does someone or something leave our life or an experience pass and we wish for one moment more to savor or say something unsaid.

An hour into Day 4: As I lay down my pen, five brown and rust robin bodies bob about the yard. Their up and down reminds me of  rigs seeking oil from Mother Earth except the robins are seeking earthworms.

Worms! That's it! How did I forget the night crawlers?

Watching the robins this morning bob about my yard, I suddenly remember last summers long, hot drought causing our yard to be so hard. Watching the robins come up empty beaked day after day prompted me to invest in night crawlers. I repeatedly bought three containers at a time that I would keep refrigerated. 

Each day I would offer up 2-3 of the largest worms to the family that had been born in the shrub by my back door now growing up all around my house.  Not wanting to make the feeding easy (or in tea party terms be seen as giving hand-outs ... and I'm not a tea party-er), I would cover the worms in dirt.

Whereas some people check their phones repeatedly, I checked my yard. I walked to the windows and I walked to the door most often finding an adult robin with a worm half her size hanging from her beak, being chased by youngsters that would gradually be fed the night crawler.

Eventually the young ones would stand by the bobbing adult modeling the way to find food.  This went on for a month. Meanwhile I the watcher would be filled with joy and relief hoping my simple efforts kept the robins alive.

Today I wonder if I unintentionally impacted the robins migratory pattern offering fat juicy night crawlers.  Did some unknown hormone fatten these words the robins fed on and draw them here again. As much as I don't like fast food, did I build a robin fast food McDawn's for the robins?  Would Rachel Carson judge me?

Two hours into Day 4:  A handful of robins bob about yet they are joined by squirrels, doves and all the usual birds. The robin chorus has been replaced by the wren who's notes are accompanied by sounds of dove and blue jay.

As I reflect upon this robin-filled week, the Soul's migration to Earth comes to mind.  I suspect we arrive at first, like the robins, having made it from afar with the idea of being one great big happy family.  There's much singing, a homecoming of sorts to be had on beautiful Earth.  Young child souls like the robins initially in my yard certainly get along much better than before they begin to grow.

As time passes as happened this week, we begin jostling and pushing seeking our equivalent of worms and nesting overcrowding certain areas, rooting out those here before us.

Over eons, this great migratory dance of Souls has unfolded as the Soul of the Universe seeks its fullest expression, a hoped-for feathered balance with Time's passing.  

Three hours into Day 4: In the brief time it's taken me to to wake up, putz, write, clean up, tinker with and post this story, the birds and squirrels at my feeder have for the most part been replaced by a handful of starlings frantically moving about the ground pecking at millet and such.

Their blackness reminds me of Mystery.

Normally I would tap on the window and send them flying.  This morning, I watch.  I am reminded of ecology, the invisible web through which we're connected, the Mystery of which we are all a part.

I watch in awe and honor these winged messengers, black, brown, red, tan, singers to my Soul informing me of the interconnected web being weaved on this spot of land I call home.

-Dawn, The Good News Muse
5 May 2014
8 February 2013

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