Subject: Fill felicity
Date: Jun 10 08:30:54 2003
From: Connie Sidles - csidles at

Hey tweets, Every now and then, I am forced to stop a moment and realize how
abundantly Nature has endowed our planet. Mars should be so lucky. I wonder,
with all the stars in the heavens, surely there must be other planets with
life on them somewhere. Whatever form that life takes would be highly
interesting, don't you think? After all, if it hadn't been for one of our
periodic major extinctions (this one pre-Cambrian), perhaps we'd all be
circular instead of bipedal, giving the phrase "Let the good times roll" a
whole new meaning.

Yesterday evening at the Fill was such a time for appreciation. The place
was absolutely teeming with birds. At the Wedding Rock, for example, having
hiked a grand total of some 30 paces, I saw ten separate species: loads of
their gorgets like mad and buzzing each other in great loops), a
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW who seemed to hold major opinions about my right to
sit under his tree, all the usual suspects (AMERICAN CROW, REDWINGED

The spot of the day, however, had to be a kettle of five (!) BALD EAGLES
circling in a thermal overhead, chased by two (!!) PEREGRINE FALCONS. The
falcons were glorious as they circled without effort and then dove on the
eagles. I think one must have been a female, as it was noticeably larger
than the other. The falcons didn't stay for long - I saw them last heading
to the northeast, so high in the sky that even my binocs could barely track

The eagles, however, stayed quite awhile, circling both high and low. At one
point, I got to see one of them lower his landing gear. It was very funny to
see him gliding along with his feet sticking down. Stuart McKay, who was
with me at the time, said that he thought maybe eagles liked to cool their
feet that way.

I was reminded of the times I would ride along in my parents' car as a
child, holding my hand just outside the window and letting the wind play
with me. Dennis Paulson, our erudite master-birder teacher/guru, has
cautioned me against anthropomorphizing birds. On one level, I know he is
right. But sometimes I think that assigning humanlike motivations to animals
is a good thing to do, maybe even the correct thing to do. It solidifies our
bond with all living things. It reminds us that we are not above animals but
rather animals ourselves and hence subject to the same forces of Nature,
evolution, adaptation, pollution, etc. Despite what he'd like to believe,
George Bush will suffer the consequences of global warming, along with the
rest of the animal kingdom. Besides, don't you think animals have fun
occasionally? Don't they like to play? Don't they experience pleasure? Maybe
the eagles dangle their feet sometimes simply because it's fun. - Connie,

csidles at

list of sightings:
pied-billed grebe
Canada goose
green-winged teal
blue-winged teal
cinnamon teal
great blue heron
bald eagle
peregrine falcon
glaucous-winged gull
ring-billed gull
Anna's hummingbird
northern flicker
American crow
barn swallow
tree swallow
cliff swallow
violet-green swallow
black-capped chickadee
Bewick's wren
marsh wren
American robin
European starling
cedar waxwings (in abundance)
spotted towhee
song sparrow
savannah sparrow
white-crowned sparrow
redwinged blackbird
house finch
American goldfinch
house sparrow