There’s a line in Harold and Maude, one of my favorite movies, where Maude says, “Dreyfus once wrote from Devil’s Island that he would see the most glorious birds. Many years later in Brittany, he realized they had only been seagulls. For me they will always be glorious birds.”
Maybe it’s spring, but lately birds have been catching my attention and the common ones are really quite extraordinary.
Gulls, ravens, sparrows and the like are amazingly adaptable creatures. Ravens are especially captivating with their silky black feathers and beaks like obsidian arrowheads.
Larger than crows, they make the most amazing sounds. They rattle and croak. They’re opportunists. Recently, I saw one on the roof of a truck tearing into a loaf of bread it no doubt stole from someone’s grocery. A man I know, a wildlife biologist, told me about a raven who used to revisit a highway worker each year because she brought him food.
They mate for life and in spring perform a graceful dive and dip through the sky.
Gulls don’t intrigue me as much except when I go to the dump. It’s a chore I’m not crazy about, but once there, I do like to watch the gulls that billow up over the mountain of trash like dandelion fluff in the wind.
I also love the way their adaptability. They nest in the eves of buildings, in abandoned vehicles and on telephone poles.
There’s something to be learned from common birds.