I never tire of watching the transformation of the monarch butterfly. In Massachusetts, this population seems to be on the rise after several years of dwindling numbers. What a pleasure to marvel at monarchs in my own yard once again!
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.
Hurrah for two common birds: The house finch and the brown-headed cowbird. They arrived at the Audubon just a few days ago.
This single finch was easy to spot among the chickadees at the feeders, while the brown-headed cowbird was part of a large flock who alternated between the tall pines and the feeders. The cowbirds seemed perfectly happy to mingle with the red-winged blackbirds and grackles. I love the cowbirds’ songs, which are described as “a variety of whistles, clicking and chattering calls”.