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A Mountain Bluebird Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Drinking, bathing, partying, mountain bluebirds celebrate water in the high desert winter.

The females are bewitching, the color of river stones with rich, green-tinged blue in wing and tail.

The Bosque del Apache blog posts are getting a bit of notice from the local media. I think this is a good thing, but don't know if I'm going to be let back into the Owl Bar anytime soon. I sure didn't mean to offend...just to point out some things that made me scratch my head. Maybe there will be a Blogger Shoot should I return...Please Dispose of Your Own Blogger. Bill is the one you want, a trophy buck blogger, dresses out to about 180.

I have a thing for bluebirds, as author of Enjoying Bluebirds More, a 30-page booklet which has sold probably a half-million copies. I know a little somethin' about enjoying bluebirds, friends. And so New Mexico, winter home of the cerulean-blue spirits known as mountain bluebirds, is a place of pilgrimage for me. I saw more mountain bluebirds this trip than I'd seen in a lifetime. Flocks of 30, 40, 50, lining the wires and adorning the fenceposts. I thrilled to their breezy, low calls--phew! And when I'd draw closer, I could hear the syllables in the call, almost a stutter of notes within that simple call.

Every morning, behind our adobe house, dozens of mountain bluebirds gather to feed on the fruits of a silvery tree. Then they whirl off across the sage flats. I followed them, and found them on the fenceposts across a pasture. They kept flying down to the ground, then rising up to preen in a brushpile nearby. I began shooting pictures from across the pasture, worried that they'd leave if I drew closer. I've only got 12x zoom on Shila's Panasonic, and I never thought I could get much before they spooked. But I pretended that the last thing on my mind was mountain bluebirds, not fooling them for a moment, I'm sure. I meandered slowly closer to the site, and discovered that they were drinking and bathing in a little pasture rivulet. Oh, joy, oh, rapture! Best of all, they did not mind my presence one little bit, bathing and preening like swimsuit models. I spent two hours in their company, enthralled and loving every minute. Finally I had to leave, and I meandered back the way I'd come, leaving them in peace.
They are living turquoise, gemstones in the mountain landscape. Theirs is a spectral cerulean that bears little resemblance to the hue of either the eastern or western bluebird. They are big and strong, long-winged and upright in their stance, fighter jets to the eastern bluebird's Piper Cub. They are built for vast distances and long flights, with long, tapered wings and deep chests. They are perfection.
This Thanksgiving Day, we're being smart travelers, flying when everyone else is cooking and gathering and celebrating.At least the planes won't be packed solid; at least the airports will be quiet. It was a calculated move, a little bleak from one angle; smart from another. I'm trying not to think about the longstanding traditions we're missing, preferring to give thanks today for New Mexico's landscapes and their birds, and the time we've been given with them.


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