MH is not a believer in chance. MH prefers to be prepared. Yes, he was a Boy Scout once.
He has more of a scientific bent. When we go birding he walks quickly. I, meanwhile, amble along, dealing with whatever Fate may throw at me.
I will stop at the smallest sound in case it's a new bird. He will keep walking. He will stop to photograph a snake, a butterfly or a dragonfly. I usually ignore anything that is not a bird and keep walking.
He knows that if we're lucky, rosebreasted grosbeaks will show up at our seed feeder in early May, around the time of our anniversary. He has a good idea of when the first junco appears for the winter and when it will leave in the spring.
These birds are common in Florida but the first one MH and I ever saw was on a rock in Central Park, where the little guy made a lot of birders very excited. The next time I saw one of these was in the front garden of the New York Public Library, a little bird surrounded by big men with gun-like cameras. (That is where I took the cellphone picture below.)
So what should we make of this phenomenon? Just as the birds fleeing the Indonesian coast warned of the Christmas tsunami, to me the birds are warning us that global warming or climate change, which made our New Jersey winter mild and free of snow, is having an effect, thus making it possible for these birds to expand their range.
MH, the scientist, went to his records. It is true, he said, that birds have been known to show up early, according to what he's read in the records of John Bull, Whitmer Stone and Ludlow Griscom. However, he also keeps weather records and when he studies the annual Year in Weather published by the New York Times, we didn't have a single day in 2011 where it was colder than normal. In fact, we did have a lot of days warmer than normal.
|Prothonotary warbler, NY Public Library|
In this we agree.
As an observer, I find the trend frightening, and not just because I am not one of those who dreams of perpetual summer, wearing flip-flops and tank-tops all year and trips to the Jersey Shore. Warmer days means more power needed for air conditioners and more water for our plants and ourselves.
People act as though we have unlimited resources. We don't. After a particularly heavy rain this week one of my neighbors' automatic sprinklers went on. I guess he couldn't be bothered to put it on only when necessary. Like the lawn services, coming on their schedule, not when the lawns need cutting.
I have no answer for this. It is particularly depressing to try to explain these things to people and be considered an old crank. I hope the children of the world learn the importance of the environment and do a better job teaching their parents.
The nest box in my backyard is finally in use. This afternoon I came out from the porch and saw one of the house wrens fly to the box opening. Cheeping ensued. At my appearance the neighbor's chained-up dog started barking and wouldn't stop until I went inside. This is the yin and yang of my life in the suburbs.