I have recently had a new visitor to my garden. The other day I glanced out the window and on the bird bath was a bird I had not seen before. It was black and orange and the size of a robin. I quickly grabbed the camera, took a picture and looked it up.
I soon discovered that this is what is called a Varied Thrush. Looking at the map its main habitat is the Pacific Northwest and it only comes down this far during the winter/non mating season. So here this beautiful orange and black creature was, after coming such a long way has decided to stay a while in my backyard. I was rather fascinated and wanted to confirm that this visitor had actually traveled that far and I found this entry.
Migration patterns differ within the various populations of Varied Thrushes. Most of the birds seen here in the Willamette Valley have probably come from higher elevation forests. But, birds that bred in Alaska and northern British Columbia will fly the farthest south, going beyond the wintering areas of the birds from southwestern Washington and northwestern Oregon. This “leap-frog” migration pattern is used by some other bird species as well. With food readily available throughout the year, individuals in the central portion of their range tend to migrate only a short distance. Rather than compete with such existing populations, the more northerly individuals find it easier to fly over the center-most populations to avoid the competition for food.
Then I thought how fantastic it would be if this bird could return the favor and let me explore his summertime home which would be the quiet conifer forests up in the Yukon, Northwest Territories or Alaska. It may be that a human has never set foot in some of those areas and there is nothing to hear but bird calls, running water and silence.
The only experience I’ve had which comes close is being on top of a mountain in Lake Tahoe. In the summer I’ve mountain biked to remote spots where one expects and just may see actual bears in the wild. I imagine that the place where my thrush spends his summer is like this but so very isolated that again, it may have never been seen with human eyes and that completely fascinates me.
I wish I could be the thrush in my back yard, if only for a little while. I want to walk in those silent forests, feeling the cool breeze of unpolluted air as it whistles through the pine trees. I want to stick my hand in the ice cold steams so the shock shakes me from my stupor and makes me feel alive. I want to taste that water in its completely natural state without additives, chlorine or anything else I’m used to. I want to become one with nature.
If I cannot be a Varied Thrush then perhaps I could be a druid. Maybe I am a druid? If not a druid then perhaps a wizard similar to Radagast the Brown?
I re-watched my the documentary Planet Earth from the BBC which captured my imagination about the forests up at the extreme north. It is known as the Taiga Forest and it is the last place trees appear before plants can no longer grow in the arctic. It is a “silent world” with nothing but snow, trees and very sparse wildlife. Seeing these images makes me wish I could fly there; not fly in an airplane but fly as a bird does. There would be no noise except when the silence is broken by my footsteps in the crunch of the snow. I would land in a place so remote that no human had ever set foot there and in the middle of such beautiful nature just be.