Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Top Ten of 2013...#7 Robin

It's that time of the year. Time for a plethora of Top Ten lists. Many produce them and guess what, they're utterly unabashed, unapologetic subjective filler. Something to plug into copy space so that the writer can take time off to enjoy the holidays. So here are My Top Ten Favorite Things of 2013. Some have been around awhile, I generally discover things later than most. I'm going to dribble them out one day at a time, many are completely frivolous because remember: they're filler so that I can do year-end holiday things. (Repeated intro from yesterday, more filler.)

My Favorite Nature Book Discovery of 2013. Since this is a nature blog and being a naturalist is both my vocation and avocation I read and even write books about nature. 

This past year is no except and the book that left the biggest impression, actually forcing me to look at the birdlife around me in an entirely new way is Jon Young's What the Robin Knows (2012). 

Before this recent work, like many or most birders, I'd look past the ordinary cardinals, wrens, jays, robins, chickadees, towhees hoping to find something more exotic like a kinglet or warbler flitting about the treetops. 

Since this book, not only do I watch birds, but I WATCH birds. And just because they live in our neighborhoods doesn't mean they are uninteresting. Their day-to-day lives are ruled by two motivators: 1. Find food, 2. Not be eaten. And all of their daily behavior, vocalizations and interactions with their mates and other species are governed by those two imperatives. No movement is purposeless. Awareness is survival. 

On top of that, they have to produce clutches of crying helpless vulnerable nestlings in a world full of predators that eat crying helpless vulnerable nestlings. Even high above the ground, Carolina wrens have to be aware of local snakes. Click: home invasion!

Now, if I hear an American robin call "tuk, tuk, tuk," I look around to see what's got it on edge.  

For the birds in your backyard, every day is a life and death struggle to live another day. Who needs TV with all this drama just outside their window.

Merry Christmas!

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