Wednesday, March 2, 2016

wildlife sanctuary: the birds

We have this beautiful piece of land in the city I spent my high school years (and met my husband just after graduating) that is designated a wildlife sanctuary. We've brought nests of birds here for rehabilitation, but mostly we've come to throw corn to the geese and the ducks.

My son, upon hearing there were "gooses," began shouting to me, "I want to feed the mooses! I want to feed the mooses!" Imagine. How very complicated! He was just as happy to fling little nuggets of seed to the gorgeous Canada geese too.

They have a collection of birds of prey as well--ones that have bum wings or single eyes, ones that cannot return to the wild for one reason or another. Most they try to get back into shape and into the air again, but that can't be every bird's story, unfortunately. So we get to visit them and thank them for letting us learn a little bit more about their lives and lives of others like them.

It's an incredible place, and I wish there was something like it in our town. Of course, this just makes the one in Green Bay more special, and when we go down to visit my sister in Texas, we'll visit their rehabilitation center as well.

The next few photographs are of the fussy birds, some fighting with each other, some reminding me of mean girls in a school cafeteria. It's funny how we anthropomorphize things to make sense of them, though it does boil down to power and territoriality, things that are not unfamiliar sources of disagreements in the human realm.

Of course, my favorite of all of this bird-y stuff is bringing my children here and letting them soak up what is native and natural to our region. To celebrate the Canada geese, which were so remarkable to me when I first moved to Wisconsin from Tennessee, where we had plenty of kudzu but not as many endless cornfields. I remember our family in our first duplex when we first got to town and my mother took us to a field at the end of our street in this neighborhood that was in the process of being developed and there they all were, honking and calling, and I had my little Pentax 110 point and shoot (remember those film canisters?) and when I slide the frame into place, that scratch-scratch sound startled the geese and they all took to the air and there we were, the three Sutton girls in a strange land, looking up at the sky as they shot up and out and into the big blue.

It's so many years later and here is our big blue and my daughter's barbaric yawp and all the pleasures of a warmer-than-usual February afternoon.

We came back the next day, so I have more photographs to show you and even a little video of some of the animals, including some fantastic howling from the wolves and coyote, but for now, I leave you with this lovely creature, which I cannot identify quite yet, but if you know, please tell!

Edit to add: my smarty-pants friend Melissa has identified this beauty as an immature bald eagle. Some day I too will be able to identify birds so swiftly!

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