Dear Birds of America, and all you other park dwellers,
Yesterday I stood eyeing a Spanish edition of Harry Potter while waiting for our flight to the Virgin Islands National Park. While other travelers bustled around me, I was busy choosing literature to practice Spanish. I thought of the owls who carry letters in the magical series, and then I thought of all the winged beings we’ve encountered on this quest.
We have heard owls hooting all across America, never really knowing which kind of owl we hear, but still appreciating the presence. Birds have called across starry skies and dawn horizons, some even sending shivers up my spine with their enchanting voices. Birdsong is woven in with the sounds of other park dwellers, species who have inspired our art and worldview.
Today is Black Friday, and while a few of my fellow species are busy in parking lots and long lines, you birds exist as you have every day. Sleeping in trees, hunting for unfortunate critters, and calling out with your timeless language. You squabble we each other as shoppers do, and give us comfort even when we do not recognize it.
My greatest wish is for all of my companions to hear and marvel in your song. I think of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring and her writing about the effect of insecticides on your populations. She wrote:
It was a spring without voices. On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of other bird voices there was now no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh…
Even the streams were now lifeless… No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves…
Her writing those many decades ago inspired many people to become involved with your protection efforts, and those actions have paid off in some ways. For one we have more national parks than we had over thirty years ago. Though we have a long way to go, don’t you think?
But on the day after Thanksgiving, we pause to feel thankful for the parks where you birds can dwell. If there is one thing I can take away from our time in three southern Florida National Parks this past month, it would be this:
Never in my life have I been in a place with so many birds conquering the skies and diving the deep blue seas.
You surprised us at every turn in Everglades, Biscayne, and Dry Tortugas National Parks. Below are a few of your portraits, we hope you like them, and we hope they may inspire our friends to think of your lives too.
We wish we knew all of your names, but what are labels when we have your beauty all around us?
Karla & Andres