I’m not sure why, but lately I’ve been seeing birds—more birds than normal, waves and waves of birds. You might think this unremarkable, but it’s been a lot of birds. All kinds: robins, thrush, crows, hawks, eagles. No herons though, my graceful friends (I see them very often). For awhile I thought it was just that thing where once you start noticing something, you see it everywhere. Like after I got glasses, I distinctly remember noticing all the other people who were wearing glasses too. It was all I could see, face after face bearing frames. But this feels different. It really does seem like there are more birds around.
It started at my parents’ house. I was out throwing the ball for Cedar, and in the quiet minutes while he was off chasing it, I kept hearing the chitter chatter of little birds. It wasn’t a song I recognized, and though it was hard to spot them at first, I saw lots of gray bodies whipping through the air that I hadn’t seen before. A few days later my dad reported that they are a kind of thrush, and their new flock had taken up residence in the trees around the front of their house. Then it was the robins: all over Reed and the dog park, I’d see field after field of robins. It seemed like hundreds! All on the ground, curiously inspecting the clawed up mud for worms. Maybe this is the fault of the wet weather—everything delicious underground is being forced up. And the other morning, journalling in my bed, I heard a long low whistle I thought for a long time was a person outside. But instead, it was a new bird call. Something is changing, I just don’t know what.
And then, of course, the birds of prey. An eagle, flying low over the house as I left for a walk with C. Close enough to the ground to see the yellow hook of his beak and the jagged line where white feathers met chocolate brown. On the drive to Spokane this past weekend, we saw another eagle, hunched over carrion on the train tracks surrounded by crows in the Gorge. Then we saw, I kid you not, 50 hawks. Hawks on fence posts, hawks on signs, hawks on rocky outcrops. We kept track because we wanted to beat Sam’s record of seeing 12 in 2 hours. Coming and going, with three of us watching, we saw 25 each way. Incredible.
My favorite though has been the hawk at the park. I spent an hour under his watchful gaze, staring up at the branch he sat on. I was enchanted by him, the way he scratched the feathers on his belly with one mottled claw, how his head swiveled to invisible sounds. Everyone else around me called to their dogs and talked to each other, but I had my eye on him. And he had an eye on me. I tell you, birds everywhere. My kind of kin.