Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Bird Count

Bird Count Poynette, Wisconsin 1972

I used to be an avid birder, not so much any longer. Back when cold mattered very little to me I ventured out into the countryside of Poynette, Wisconsin with a small group for the annual Christmas Count. The idea was to count the various species of birds and then with the magic of mathematics insert your numbers into a formula, crunch them, and figure out winter bird populations for the area. Several counts went on throughout the state simultaneously and the results were compiled in the Badger Birder. I, in fact, was mentioned in the birder that year for having spotted a Herring Gull out of its normal winter range. Doubtless that rattled the very halls of science, but it was still nice seeing my name in print on something other than a police blotter.

Snow dampens all the sounds and there was plenty that year. I was up at Goose Pond conducting the count with a friend and we wandered into a stand of pines. The pines literally exploded, snow flying everywhere – a good amount of it down my neck. The noise from about fifteen pheasants lodged up in the branches of the pines all launching out at once was deafening. It was even quieter just before the dawn, though the dawn promised to be gray and sullen. Our group was out in a small wood lot, the fellow destined to become a biologist for the state running a tape recorded voice of the Great Horned Owl - “Who, who, who cooks for you aaaaaall”. Play, then listen…play, then listen, hoping for an answer. And an answer came, a query as to who dared trespass on the lord of the trees demesne, sending some sort of primal shiver down the spine. I recommend you read “An Owl Moon” by Jane Yolen if ever you get the chance. Yes, it is a children’s book, but it captures the wonder of a child hearing an owl call for the first time. I live that wonder every time I hear it, though it has been a long time since I have haunted the Wisconsin woods.

4 Comments:

At 4:37 PM, Blogger Tea and Books, etc said...

More stories from days of yore, please!

 
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