“The Bluebird of Happiness long absent from his life, Ned is visited by the Chicken of Depression.” – Gary Larson
North America has three bluebirds, an eastern, a western and the mountain bluebird. My tiny blue, glass figurine that represents the symbol of happiness — which is still hidden somewhere in the bins I stored away before taking to the road in my RV — most certainly represents the mountain variety. I hope I find it soon.
A mountain bluebird’s feathers, in my experience, are the bluest of blues. So blue that I was startled the day I first saw one. It seemed to sparkle in the cool, high mountain air where a recent snowfall had frosted the spruces and firs.
It was April 10, 1999. The day is etched in my memory because it was the day I began a passionate love affair with all birds – from the gigantic California condor, whose recovery from near extinction I have often wrote about, to the tiny calliope who once flashed me with its brilliant purple neck feathers.
I’ve seen many mountain bluebirds since then, including at least 300 the time I was driving Highway 95 through the Glen Canyon Recreation Area. For about 10 miles of the drive, small flocks of the birds flittered along the roadside as I passed them by. I occasionally pulled off the road for a better look through my binoculars. The red-rock settings of the canyon made the blue feathers of the bird stand out — and glitter like stars on a dark night away from city lights.
Once, I participated in an Audubon check of bluebird boxes near the top of Monte Cristo in Northern Utah. During one of the nest box inspections, the leader of this long-term project was dive-bombed by two agitated bird parents as he unscrewed the top of the box so we could all check what was inside. I held my breath as I observed six baby mountain bluebirds with developing soft smoky gray feathers. It was truly a magical moment, especially when we all retreated and the parents saw that their babies were unharmed.
And so was the moment I had yesterday, when I observed my first mountain bluebird in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains, which are now my backyard.
Bean’s Pat: 23 Thorns http://tinyurl.com/qbdv4fk I started this blog because it was titled Baobab Tree. I can’t resist trees — or blogs about them. But the blog talked about a lot more than trees, including rhinos and fish eagles, and I was fascinated and charmed by the conversation, lengthy though it was – and with more to come. .