Tuesday, May 6, 2008

prairie smoke and a towhee

I had some errands to run today, and since it was such a nice spring day, I decided to ride my bike. On my way out I stopped by the Wild Ones planting to see how the Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorium) was coming along, but it's still just buds. I don't think it bursts into its weird smoky flowers until summer. Believe it or not, this plant is related to roses and apples.

The park was full of birds. Lots of Song Sparrows and White-throated Sparrows, and a Hermit Thrush, and some tiny kinglet-sized birds that I never got a good look at. There were also about 50 or so Red-necked Grebes out on the lake.


But the star of the bird-show was this: an Eastern Towhee. Not a rare bird in the grand scheme of things, but apparently rare bird in the Duluth scheme of things--from what I understand, they only get sighted/reported here about once a year.

I was just sort of meandering around the Wild Ones planting looking at columbine sprouts and stuff and then I looked up and there was this colorful bird the size of a big sparrow, and since I'm not sure if I've ever seen one before--certainly not in Duluth--my brain didn't click to what it was right away. Redstart? No. Rose-breasted Grosbeak? No. Shoot, I know I've seen this in books, though. Here is a page with a much better picture than mine. The first time I saw him I easily got within five or ten feet of him with a nice, clear view... but of course then I didn't have my camera with me. Once I got my camera out I only got blurry shots, obscured shots, or butt shots.

There are so many benefits to walking or biking, and this is one of them: you see stuff. I wouldn't have seen any of this if I'd run my errands with a car. When you travel at a human, worldly pace, you get to experience the things of the world: fresh air, sunshine, funny little pink flowers and bright red birds.

3 comments:

Rick said...

Those are not that bad pictures. The bird can be identified from them.

Chris said...

Now that is a headkickingly good local bird.

There are so many benefits to walking or biking, and this is one of them: you see stuff

A-MEN.

Sonya said...

Rick: They are... perfectly serviceable pictures. They serve a documentary purpose, but they're not art. (I am kind of picky about my photos.)

Chris: You know that I sulk more than I should about not having a car, but--in the springtime especially--it's really not that bad. It is such a pretty world out there.