Come now, it is only August 15th, but the birds are starting to migrate. How do I know this, you ask? I happen to be one of those strange people who look into our skies. Even now, as I sat down to write this, a flock of geese flew over my house in search of a place to rest for the night.
I had a sneaking suspicion the other day when I was driving through the country and saw not one, but a dozen Sandhill Cranes in a field. I tried to discount it as a”Ye Old Crane Gathering” but, truth be told, they were meeting up to make the long journey south. The Hummingbirds are intently feeding on the homemade nectar I make for them, buzzing frantically and fighting over who gets to be there first. Ugh.. there is another flock of geese flying overhead. I live near some…. lakes, for lack of a better word (they are actually gravel pits filled in with water, seeded with grass, with a few houses plopped around for good measure). The geese literally flock to these lakes come spring and fall.
What gets me, is that it isn’t even fall yet! My yard is in full bloom, the cicadas are still buzzing from the trees, school is several weeks off (at least in this part of the country). Admittedly, it rained all day yesterday and barely made it to 70 degrees, and our pool water is so cold that the children’s lips turn blue when swimming… but, darn it! It is still only August, and mid-August at that!
I know that the scientists have these theories as to why birds migrate, but I honestly think it is simpler than that. I have always been one to believe that birds communicate, much like humans – only through their own language of whistles and chirps. We own an African Gray, and I have had parakeets nearly my entire life – so I can speak from my own limited experience. I honestly think that these birds go to the neighbor birds and say, “Hey, the kids have flown the coop – me and the Mrs. are empty nesters now and good golly…. It was cold last night! What do you say we all start moseying down to where the weather is warm?” The two pairs come to an agreement, and from there they go around to the rest of the neighborhood, knocking on leaves and entering nests. They all come to the conclusion that it is time to start their flight. A bunch of birds try to take the lead, totally confusing the rest. We, as humans, watch their flight patterns with amazement, while the birds are all yelling – “That way! No… THAT WAY! South is down everybody!”
I am sad to see the birds go. I will miss the Robins for the winter, looking for them again in March. I will keep my feeder ready for the first Hummingbird who travels through in the spring. I can’t say I will miss the geese, but their lonely honking will be anticipated after the snow starts to melt. I will keep my eye out for the Sandhill cranes and Red-Wing Blackbirds when I begin to traverse back out on the roads on my bike to train after the weather breaks. I will prepare to supplement the diet of those birds who choose to stay here for the long cold winters with my feeders.
I always hope that this time will be delayed. That the birds will be enjoying the weather so much they want to stay another week. I know that they are being smart though – it is a long journey and if they are anything like my parents they want to get on the road early, with as few breaks as possible, so they can enjoy their trip down south. It’s just that I must now start my own preparations for the winter – schedules, clothing, breaking down the summer toys and looking forward to what I need when the snow flies. Its part of what I love about Michigan, it truly is – for the seasons have their own beautiful qualities to them. However, the fall can be melancholy if you allow it, watching the leaves fall, and barrenness of the landscape before it is covered in white. I vow to meet this Autumn with a smile on my face. I plan on jumping through the leaves, going on hikes to enjoy the gorgeous scenery the world has to offer. Instead of bidding the birds goodbye? I will wish them safe journey, a comfortable home in the south, and a warm welcome when they return.