Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Wonder of Warblers

Yesterday as I was leaving work I heard a "check, check" from the topmost branches of a blooming ornamental pear tree just outside the library building. I saw a tiny bird nervously flitting about. I stood beneath the tree, trying to get a good look, knowing it had to be a migrating warbler. Yes! A yellow rumped warbler, or myrtle warbler as the eastern species is often called. The yellow side patches clearly gave it away. This is a first sighting for me. Warblers are confusing, I think, though not as confusing as sparrows--I had to make mental note of the field marks and ID the bird when I got home. I felt fortunate to have seen it.

In April and May the warblers are migrating, and if you pay attention, you might see many colorful birds in the treetops that are only passing through on their way to their breeding grounds, wherever they may be.

I've always been interested in nature and birds (and flowers), in particular, but I am not an experienced birder, by any means. Birds fascinate me, though. How could there be such a dazzling array of species? Why are some plain and others brightly colored? Why do some sing sweetly and others not at all? Why do some eat seeds and others worms? And why do they migrate and how do they know the way? How can such a tiny creature fly thousands of miles? It's all mysterious and wonderful. And it assures me of God's existence.

I often overlook the infinite wonder of people, I guess, because I am one. I overlook the wonder of stars, rivers, mountains--all because they are familiar and I take them for granted. But warblers? How can one overlook the wonder of a warbler? Here is a tiny bird, just passing by unobtrusively. In all my 50-plus years I have never seen a myrtle warbler. Yet every year hundreds of them flit through the treetops on their way to where, I do not know. People speak of feeling God's presence in the mountains and oceans and other huge natural splendors, but this little bird comes to my attention and I am no less moved.

Garden Notes: The snows that covered the garden throughout February were depressing, but the payoff comes now, in the garden. Everything was protected by the cold with an insulating blanket of snow and is blooming wildly now. There's a lot of work to be done, but it's all a pleasure. The roses that showed chlorosis last year appear to be suffering this year as well. Action needs to be taken, but what? Photo from Wikipedia.