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From Barbara:

Retirement from the 9 - 5 corporate world has given me freedom and has allowed me an appreciation of birds. Birds. Yep. Those winged creatures that are up early every morning, who express themselves in song, and who inspire envy in flight.

I never cared for birds. I thought they were filthy and annoying. Now I am in awe. It started with my morning walks. In the clear deep blue skies sailed hawks. I had never noticed. I was always in inner city at work or busy at home doing chores. My G_d, these incredible hawks soar through the air, gliding as they search for prey. I see them every day. They are spectacular.

The chorus I hear every morning couldn't be better orchestrated. Nature is the conductor. Simultaneously, all kinds of chirps, singing, humming, and pecking are emitted.

The doves call ooo,ooo,ooo,ooo, perhaps a mating call. The quail strut along the desert floor in search of insects, dressed in formality, with fancy "hats" on their little heads, as if they are going to church services.

While I write this I hear a noisy motor adjacent to my chair. Suddenly a hummingbird appears in front of me for a brief moment, suspended in air. Then it takes off. Right afterwards I hear a commotion and look to my left. A roadrunner descends from a tree (I thought they were grounded) where it was josting with a small bird. The cartoonish yet regal desert dweller paces under the tree, then retreats in a huff.

Two nights ago at dusk an amazing creature announced its arrival, not unlike a super hero, with stealth and power. The wingspan upon its arrival was intimidating as the owl landed on top of a centuries old saguaro, perching as a monarch in charge of a kingdom. Piercing eyes kept watch for hapless ground squirrels and baby rabbits. It hooted as if to let the lesser beings know who was in charge. Then it soared quickly to the ground, pouncing on its dinner.

The ravens have arrived in recent years. Huge black birds noisily call out as they fly through the air. I have witnessed two encounters of ravens fighting with hawks twice their size. The noisy in air bickering and physical collisions were well matched and attended by a spotter guard, a second raven who called out and chased the pair from a close distance. Conversely I have witnessed small birds fiercely protecting their nests, chasing off ravens ten times their size.

Tiny birds, woodpeckers, cactus wrens, winged wariors...the birds are everywhere, singing, flying, perching. They usher in the morning with song...and greet the evening with shadows.

The birds are wonderful.

I never knew.