June 24, 1923. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 58(39): 3-W.
An Early Morning's Visits With the Birds
By Sandy Griswold.
Talking about the birds, and it is always a delightful theme, reminds me that my little jaunt with a friend one Sunday morning last, was as unexpected as it was enjoyable. After an enchanting early morning drive we were in our favorite woods in the quiet splendor of the dawn, when conditions are just right, atmospherically, to endow one with the keenest zest for both mental and physical exercises - one of those incomparable mornings of about the sweetest month of all year - June.
While the floral wealth of the early summer had reached its most lavish exuberance, in which, of course, we were unenthusiastically interested, it is of the birds I wish to tell you, but only in a fragmentary and disconnected way.
As I have frequently told you, I am one of the happy clan whose predilections for the witcheries and alluring beauties of the arboreal quiets had their foundation lain in the wizardry of adventurous youth. It is an obsession, by the way, that the cumulative years seems to have no effect upon, other than the additional knowledge, broader, deeper and more intensified, that comes with mellowing age.
On Sunday morning, after much aimless wandering, hither and thither, to the undoubted perturbation, no doubt, of many of the shy little dwellers, both furred and feathered, of that grand but gloomy old woods, and the trampling, too, of myriads of half-hidden little floral jewels, we reached a favorite salient, a secluded nook among the whispering oaks and odorous undergrowths that so filled all the lanes and by-ways.
The legendary rill, that has its source, and has had it for, maybe, one hundred years or more, up in the rugged crags along the hogback, ran cozily by, not a dozen yards away from where we sprawled, with an unceasing silvery tinkle and much elfin laughter, off down through both the florescent and cryptogamic fronds of the ripening summer, here overlapping itself and dampening the low borders for many long steps, at this spot or that, then shrinking back to its original source, losing itself just so often midst brier and bramble, until it finally swirled, with a display of defiance, into a broader and more vigorous current, crossing the road and disappearing in the broad expanse of marshland that intervened between wooded bluff and roiling river.
Lolled and Listened.
There we lolled and listened, discussing, in whispering tones, the various bird songs and calls which came filtering into the sunlit spaces like the dim echoes of an angelic choir.
And scores and scores of birds called upon us, too, so close that we could see the color of their eyes, while countless others thwarted our vision in their little voyages from bush to tree and back again, in the distance, but not without the confines of our enthusiastic imaginings. Shapes, colors, peculiarities of flight and variegated sounds, were duly discussed and analyzed, and while many, with a fair preponderance of accuracy, there were doubtless numerous absurdities in our deductions.
Be that as it may, never is the real bird student so effervescent, so filled with gladsome elation, as when endeavoring to differentiate some strange bird call from another, and to determine upon its identity. While it is a fascinating epoch, it is a contract that quite frequently outlasts the patience of the most enthusiastic and terminates in sheer disappointment.
Barefoot Days Again.
While we saw finches and sparrows in many varieties, there were phoebes and thrashers and thrushes also, and warblers in dizzy plenitude, black, white and striped, Tennessees and Marylands, yellow throats and snow throats, vivid reds and brightest blues, gray and black fly-catchers, grosbeaks, rose breasted and fiery crimson, downy woodpeckers, nuthatches, sapsuckers, flickers, redheads, grackles, gold finches and wrens that kept the summer haze throughout the woodland streaked with startling hues and resonant with magic sound. And down the hill, and across the old trail, where the legendary rill had hidden itself in a wilderness of watercress, cattails, flags and waving weeds and grasses, out in the cerulean spaces, were martins and swallows, and their passerine tribesmen were dipping, curving, undulating, gyrating and convoluting, in and out and over the golden coated willows, with their slender green leaves, and the broad flats reaching to the white shores of the river. Swarms of redwings were always restlessly flitting hither and yon and keeping the sensuous June air vibrant with their sweet and melodious long-kong-koree-ee - the most potential barefoot days of my boyhood.
But wait, originally, I intend to tell you something about the fly-catching birds we saw, but it is too late now, and you will have to await another Sunday.