Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Rare bird.

     Warm weather drew my wife and me to the Chicago Botanic Garden both Saturday and Sunday, and we were rewarded with an abundance of new flowers—irises, daffodils, dogwood and forsythia—and unexpected wildlife: two otters (or, just possibly, the same otter seen twice), a flitting flock of some kind of tiny blue starling and the capstone, the white, sinuous bird above. My first hunch was that it was a snowy egret, but given the season and the location, it might just be an immature blue heron, or a great egret, which would be less off the beaten track than its snowy brethren, rare north of the Missouri River. Whatever it was, I'd never seen anything like it at the Botanic Garden before.
     We lingered, hoping for a better look, until an angry goose hurried over and drove us off. I don't want to anthropomorphize anything, but it truly seemed like the goose was protecting the egret, or whatever it was.
     "The birds are uniting," I told my wife, as we fled. "Humanity is doomed."
     I spent a while with my bird books Monday, trying to ID the mystery white bird, then decided it was a futile pursuit. Why care about exact scientific classification of a glimpsed bird anyway? Why limit the range of speculation to that realm? Maybe it was not a snowy nor great egret, and not an immature blue heron, but the spirit of springtime in avian form. A lost soul, allowed to escape the underworld for one hour a year, appearing on earth as a white sylph. There are possibilities outside of the The Sibley.
     Okay, those really aren't possibilities. But fun to think about nonethele


  1. That elongated beak and tall landing gear suggest that it's a Great Egret, and Google concurs. You can try comparisons of other known images with yours in a Chrome browser by right-clicking on your photo, then selecting "Search image with Google lens" and see what you think of the results.

  2. Great Egret...common during migration...

  3. "Fascinating," as Mr. Spock would say.


  4. My wife and I aren't really bird people, even though we have a multi-unit birdhouse on a ten-foot post (a sign on it reads "Birdland Condos"). It attracts a lot of common sparrows and we hear a lot of tweeting and twittering, which are their songs and calls, I suppose. I also hear and see a lot of other birds in the yard, but I don't even know what any of them are.

    And the sounds these mystery birds make all resemble human speech to me. What birds have calls that sound like "cheater-cheater"..."bitch-bitch-bitch"...and "bridget-bridget"???

    Once, and I kid you not, both my wife and I distinctly heard "reefer-reefer"--and then there is "bourchee-bourchee"---which is a word my father used instead of "kvetch" or "complain". Might be Polish or Russian. Can't find it listed anywhere. Nobody else I know has ever said it. Just some bird.


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