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My Life’s Birds: #110

July 30, 2008

December 11, 1993 – Springfield, Mo – Creeper. Is there a bird in North America named half so well or so oddly? And brown besides. Brown Creeper. A name perhaps better suited for a spider or a centipede some other sort of creepy-crawly. But a bird? Birds warble and flycatch and woodpeck and sandpipe, and maybe, just maybe, mergans, whatever that is. They don’t creep.

And yet, when the cold winds of winter sweep across the land and the countryside is left in shades of gray, a pen and ink drawing of the world, a flash of motion on an still chilly morning. The sound of a balloon slowly leaking air through a pin-sized hole. And there, creeping, believe it or not, honest to goodness creeping, spiraling up the trunk of a bare tree, the tiny bird. When it reaches the top, a deft turn and drop to the bottom of the next tree, where it repeats its dance. Methodically but swiftly peering into each crack and crevice, a dirty cotton ball wrapped around a tongue depressor. All but invisible in those few moments when it pauses, with cryptic back facing the observer, a bird shaped stain on an otherwise quiet canvas of bark.

The observers, a awkward teen birder in an ill-fitting parka and his father. The place, Springfield Conservation Nature Center. The life bird, ticked.

photo from wikipedia

  1. John permalink
    July 30, 2008 11:11 am

    I remember seeing one of them for the first time.

  2. slybird permalink
    July 30, 2008 11:20 pm

    Haha.. mergansing.

    Really, I thought they were just trees shifting their bark around? I remember seeing my first on the tree in our front yard. I was so excited.

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