Sunday, May 14, 2006

Tag! I'm it!

I've never been tagged before, so imagine my surprise when I found myself tagged by the most eloquent birder I know. The assignment is to list the ten most beautiful birds. Gwyn chose to list hers in order of the stories they tell. I think I'll list mine by the stories I have to tell about them.

10. Penguins. Twenty years ago when I lived in Maryland, my then-fiancé, now-husband and I went to the National Zoo in Washington, DC. Among all the exhibits was a wall of letters from visitors. The one letter that stood out in my mind read simply, "The San Diego Zoo has penguins." That comment struck our funny bones and it's been quoted many times over the years. When we recently had the opportunity to go to the San Diego Zoo, we found that they no longer had penguins. I wish I could find that original letter writer just so I could say, "Neener, neener!"

9. Cardinals. Growing up in the south, I've always taken cardinals for granted. Only since I've moved to Las Vegas have I come to really appreciate their beauty. I've seen many a cardinal attack the vicious foe he saw in the rear view mirror of a car parked in the driveway. One found his reflection in the small window in my pantry in Tennessee and he would give it what for at about the same time every afternoon. I miss cardinals and I watch for them whenever I go home.

8. House wren. Our house in Tennessee had an old falling down shed...which eventually completed the process and fell down. While it still stood, though, we used it to store junk. The Christmas tree stand hung on the wall, and its perfectly round well became home to a house wren and her brood one year. I love it when birds come so close and touch our lives. I love being reminded that we're sharing this earth with them.

7. Indigo bunting. When I was little, I remember my mother running to find me wherever it was I was playing in the house. She hustled me to the back room, where there was a large window overlooking the patio and the bird feeder that was there. A brilliant blue bird was on the feeder, and Mama breathlessly told me it was an indigo bunting. More than the bird, I remember Mama's excitement. The treat of seeing such an exotic bird in our own back yard was thrilling, yes, but I don't remember the bird. It's Mama I remember, and how honored I felt that she was sharing this special moment with me.

6. Roadrunners. When I moved to Las Vegas, one of my first trips was to Red Rock Canyon. There in the visitors' center was an exhibit of the animals you might see there. Among the displays was a roadrunner. That's the first time I ever saw one in the flesh, but I remember marveling over the plate in Mama's Audubon book when I was little. I didn't manage to see one at Red Rock that day, but I later became acquainted with the roadrunner who makes his home at my workplace. Our buildings are spread out over several acres, and there's a roadrunner who has decided we humans aren't really all that fast or smart. He gives us a wide berth, but he's pretty sure of his safety.

5. Eastern bluebirds. Driving down the back roads of Tennessee and Georgia, my mother and I used to keep watch for those brilliant flashes of blue near the fencerows by open fields. During one long trip she and I got distracted watching for bluebirds and missed a turn on the Interstate. We ended up going a whole state out of our way. And then there are the dozens of bluebird plates she and I collected rom flea markets and yard sales. Bluebirds always remind of me of Mama and happiness.

4. Black-chinned hummingbird babies. They may not be spectacular, but the babies that grew up in my back yard are dear to my heart. Hummingbirds of all kinds are amazing creatures, and these two are special to me.

1, 2, and 3. It's a three-way tie for first place. My parrots Georgia, Noah, and Kito, listed in the order they joined my flock. Georgia is a green-cheeked conure. She crawled up on my shoulder and cuddled up to my neck the first time I met her in 1997. How could I not bring her home? Noah the African grey was next. I brought him home the day after Thanksgiving in 1998. He's the best talker in the flock and he brightens every day with his words. And there's Kito, who came home with me in 2003. His previous family couldn't keep him because of one child's severe asthma, which was exacerbated by bird dander. Kito is the daredevil of the bunch, hanging upside down by his toenails and doing calisthenics. Every one of them is beautiful in his own way, so I can't possibly put these three in order.

I wish I knew three people to tag, but I just don't have too many correspondents. I'll tag my sister Bay and hope that she can think of more people to pass along the assignment to.


At 5/16/2006 7:50 PM, Blogger Gwyn said...

Oh, I love the little stories that go with each of your birds. You know, I do believe your sister has pined out loud about wanting to see an Indigo Bunting. I see them fairly often, but have never been able to capture a photo for her yet!

Thanks for playing. It's been fun to see all the different ways people have made their choices.


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