Pumpkins, Fall vegetation, colonial houses, and snowy landscapes dotted with the creatures that inhabit them all evoke a traditional New England Thanksgiving. Wishing you a wonderful holiday from Central Massachusetts.
In recent years, wild turkeys have become a very common sight in Massachusetts. While they look rather plain and brown from a distance, a closer inspection reveals feathers of a wide variety of subtle patterns and hues. The males’ iridescent feathers shine with green, red, bronze, copper and gold. Both males and females have a distinctive “wattle”, a fleshy red piece of skin that hangs beneath the neck.
This northern cardinal, high above me on his windy perch, spotted me photographing him. With feathers rustling in the wind, his watchful eye followed me attentively. With a sudden flash of brilliant red, he swooped down to command the bird feeders, constantly checking out the action around him. It wasn’t until he was at ground level that he seemed curiously unconcerned with the small mammals hunting for seeds with him.
I was startled and delighted to spot this red fox kit in my backyard. It didn’t run away until called sharply by its mother, so I had ample time to enjoy its large black twitching ears and black legs, as well as its white-tipped tail, which is a key differentiation between a gray and a red fox.
In mythology, foxes are often described as sly and cunning. This kit, like most young animals, didn’t bring those characterizations to mind. It was completely charming in all its innocence, curiosity and playfulness.
A few days ago, I highlighted a beautiful Canada goose I named Nike in honor of its incredible wings. Yesterday, I was able to consider in more depth features of this prevalent New England bird.
Canada geese arrive at this pond at the Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary in early Spring and raise families before leaving in the Fall. Likeable and easy-going, they are comfortable co-existing with human visitors. I was able to easily photograph their famed “goose necks”, intricate layers of feathers, startling dark eyes, and bills that are perfectly attuned to their habitat. Because of my intimate visits with them, I no longer consider these engaging and attractive birds “just ordinary geese”!
Robert McCloskey’s “Make Way For Ducklings” (1941) is a classic children’s story of a mallard couple who raise a family in a park in Boston, Massachusetts. When I was a primary school teacher, I read this imaginative book dozens of times to my students.
It was wonderful to pass a peaceful hour observing a real mallard couple at the Audubon. Their vibrant colors, patterns and serene presence were delightful. It was easy to understand why McCloskey chose to feature these creatures in his story.
Recently I was thrilled to witness a Canada Goose displaying its wings in a gorgeous and dramatic fashion. It reminded me of Nike, the goddess of Victory, the sister of Kratos (Strength), Bia (Force), and Zelus (Zeal). She was most often portrayed with wings and was known as a divine charioteer who flew over the battlefield bestowing laurels upon the victors. She was one of the most frequently portrayed symbols on Greek coins.