An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of May 12, 2008
Issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins
in Yucatán, MÉXICO, MÉXICO

BIRD SPRING FEVER

Altamira Oriole on Spanish Cedar fruits

This week the birds began getting spring fever. Not just the Clay-colored Robins starting their dawn calling, just a little, with their fluty, echoic burblings, and a Mottled Owl whoah, whoah, whoahing next to the hut, but also the Scrub Euphonia with an occasional plaintive syeeu syeeu, the White-fronted Parrots squawking almost too much, and other birds like the Altamira Oriole who have been vocal all along but who now are raising their volume and level of enthusiasm. Above, you can see an Altamira Oriole swinging on maturing dangling fruits of a Spanish Cedar behind my hut.

Not only do you hear more birds but also see them more, partly because with the dry season many leaves have fallen, opening up the forest, but also because migrants from up North, after skulking quietly in the shadows since arriving, now forage more daringly, often flitting near when snatching a fly or berry.

To the locals this is just what happens as the dry season gets underway, but to us to whom such bird behaviors announce the approach of spring, it evokes all sorts of green, urgent associations.

It's good to feel springy, and to have so many years of spring memories stored up. It's good to see and hear springtime hope and vigor swirling around, and know that it's bound to increase during the next few weeks. Especially I look forward to the Clay-colored Robins calling at their peak, when the polyphony of their continually ebbing and flowing chanting evokes the auditory equivalent of submersion in a coral reef -- an ocean of delicious forms, color and goings-on swirling all around.

I wish you could hear the Laughing Falcon calling from deep in the forest as I write these words, and be as pleased as I am about that emotive message issuing from the forest beneath this precise patch of blue sky, in the center of this big limestone block which is the Yucatan, in this exact spot on little Earth so green and blue with white cloud-swirls as it orbits the Sun so mathematically correct in its random part of our mediocre but gorgeously spinning, sparkling galaxy, in this mysterious Universe in which we humans can't detect, only infer, 96% of reality, the rest being what our greatest minds can only name dark matter and dark energy, all this some kind of Something where illusion and reality are both extremes with a Middle Path, which can't be described, only alluded to, or perhaps experienced without realizing it.

How pretty is the singing of the birds.