The year of the…

In her paean to birding, Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds, Lyanda Lynn Haupt writes:

There is a game birders play on New Year’s Day called “Bird of the Year.” The very first bird you see on the first day of the new year is your theme bird for the next 365 days. It might seem a curious custom, but people who watch birds regularly are always contriving ways to keep themselves interested. This is one of those ways. You are given the possibility of creating something extraordinary — a Year of the Osprey, Year of the Pileated Woodpecker, Year of the Trumpeter Swan. This game is an inspiration to place yourself in natural circumstances that will yield a heavenly bird, blessing your year, your perspective, your imagination, your spirit. New year, new bird.

After her breathless anticipation, Haupt is confronted with… an European Starling, or “sky-rat.”

The Year of the European Starling. Inauspicious, yes, but not without its charms, according to Haupt.

As I have on the past thirteen or so New Year’s Eves, I ensured that all of the feeders were topped off and that corn and nuts were scattered for the squirrels last night. (There are no squirrel-proof feeders, but I have learned that feed scattered away from the feeders will (mostly) keep those furry nuisances away from the birds and the more expensive seed.) Last year, I saw the first bird of the year before I had even left my bed: a house sparrow hopping and chatting with his friends in the yew hedge. This year, I espied a black-capped chickadee in the oak out back.


10 thoughts on “The year of the…

  1. Hello, Melissa! Happy New Year! I wanted to let you know that a group of us from WTM (and several other people who were friends) have started a group on Facebook with the shared goal of reading through the entirety of Shakespeare’s works in 2017. I don’t know if you or your daughters are on Facebook, but if you are and would like to participate please let me know! I can forward you a link to the closed group. Although we’re only 2 days in, it’s been enjoyable so far. I thought this might be something you would enjoy, and your comments and thoughts about the material are always valuable. 🙂

    Hillary Harm


  2. During the Warbler’s Spring Migration, While Feeling Sorry for Myself for Being Stuck Here, the Dooryard Birds Save Me from My Melancholy

    I am not a rare warbler,

    brilliant migratory avatar,

    here only momentarily

    to sing a brilliant song.

    I am a common chickadee

    a long time here to sing

    a common song about

    how beautiful

    the ordinary is.

    — David Budbill


  3. It’s the year of the Brown Thrasher for me. Last year was year of the Tufted Titmouse, which my sons thought was hilarious. I tried to explain that the name came from the Old English for “Little Bird” but they were having none of it.


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