“The Sibley Guide to Birds” by David Allen Sibley

This isn’t a book you “read”, but I spent the morning with it, so I think it’s fair game.

We went to the wildlife refuge because a snowy owl has been seen repeatedly over the past ten days. The advice was to get out there early, but it was at least 7:30 by the time we arrived. I’ve never seen a snowy owl in the wild, and my record on other owls is weak. I HEAR two species regularly on my own property, but I don’t see them.

The sky was overcast and the temperature dropped through the morning, but stayed above freezing. (I’m aware that a naturalist should be more specific about the weather, but I am not the family note taker.) There was a moderate wind.

We didn’t find the snowy owl, but the other birds we saw were magnificent! Perched on a pole, just where the snowy owl should have been, was a bald eagle in mature plumage! So BIG. I checked in Sibley – a wingspan of 80 inches. He stared at us and we stared back for 10 minutes, long enough for photography. Then he flew off at a right angle, so we could see his size and power. No wonder eagles made their way into myth and legend!

We saw much of what you expect on a salt marsh in December – ducks of all sizes, shore birds, and a northern harrier working its way back and forth across the marsh. 

To the north, in the middle distance, we saw an explosion of snow geese. There were so many, and, as they rose up, their bright white feathers made changing patterns against the gray water and greenish brown vegetation. Breathtaking!

Stay tuned for further adventures with D A Sibley.


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