A nature essay
by Janice Daugharty
Copyright 2010 Janice Daugharty
Yesterday I spied a vee of Sandhill Cranes tacking northward, squawking good-bye in the fair blue sky over our mini-plantation known as Cow Creek. Red birds, like gaudy bows, glowed in the evening sun in my reviving rose garden. A lone robin, left behind when its family took to their annual spring flight, stepped and pecked in the dry grass and leaves of our back yard. I figure maybe he’s one of the cold, old ones, who couldn’t make the trip, so was mercifully left to languish in the insulating heat of our coming summertime.
This past fall, nets of redwing blackbirds with their off-key chittering swooped down on the live oaks, wing-beats gusting acorns like hail on our rooftop. They lit in the bare branches of the wintering pecan trees behind our house, stuck like withering black fruit, and when they flew their wind sent a scattering of pecans for Thanksgiving pies. Winging over the open corn field, a hundred-strong, they wheeled in unison, flashing a neon shield crimson as the setting sun.
It’s been a good bird season here in South Georgia: doves streaming in droves over the mowed corn field behind our old farm house, their wings squeaking like rusty door hinges. During dove shoots I would sit on my screened porch and watch shotgun barrels glinting in the winter light from the spaced placement of men invited to our shoots. They call out to each other by name—“Shoot!” Only the best, brightest and politest were invited—don’t level your gun at the hunter across the field from you, like you-know-who. Do, and you are out of the game forever.