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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Fox Sparrows

This morning two Fox Sparrows came with the juncos and White-crowned Sparrows into the feeder at work. We've had eight inches of snow in the last day or so, and the birds are really coming in for food. These are probably early migrants on their way back north, as they are harder to find earlier in the winter. So, Spring is on its way--hard to believe with all the snow, but the birds know!

Fun to see something different at the feeders. I've been so absorbed in editing reports for the Great Backyard Bird Count that I haven't seen as many birds as I need to. I don't much care for a lifestyle governed more by computer screens than by the coming and going of birds. Taking some time out of every day to throw yourself into the world of birds is a good antidote for the abstract thinking that governs so much of our daily activities--especially at work.

Unlike most of the objects in our world, birds are animals--animated beings--filled with anima or the breath of life. Just being around other breathing beings is cathartic, but bird breathing is incredible. Read about it here.

Basically, because of their complex respiratory system, birds are breathing in and out at the same time. They also have air sacks throughout their bodies. In some ways, birds are like living balloons. The "breath of life" in birds, that which animates them, makes them essentially part of the wind. As they fly they are both moving through the air, and moving air through them. For millions of years, our ancestors have watched our feathered neighbors, these small packets of the atmosphere, and marvelled at their mobility--their animations. Today, I marvelled at the two Fox Sparrows. They were a "breath of fresh air" to my normal work routine.

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