The Hermit and I went for a New Year's birding drive this morning. I had planned on going for a morning walk, but with temperatures hovering around zero I thought I might freeze my face off or something. The rest of the weekend does not sound much better.
We drove to the feeder where a few days earlier, on the Christmas Bird Count with Lynne, Steve, and Jim, I caught a brief glimpse of what we decided later was a Spotted Towhee. This bird is very rare in Minnesota, and I think this was the first record of it ever in this county. At any rate it's a lifer for me, although I can't remember how many birds are on my life list. Two hundred or so.
The Hermit and I did not see the towhee, nor the female red winged blackbird that had been there for the CBC, nor the male cardinal (believe me, it's a rarity around here). We did see chickadees, blue jays, and downy woodpeckers. We drove for miles after that and enjoyed the dazzling sunlight, the beauty of the woods and cabins covered in snow, and the old barns and the bogs. But it was what we saw before we even got to the towhee spot that will stay with me for a long time.
I spotted something soaring in the sky. "Eagle!" I called out even before I got the binoculars focused. "Two of them!" The Hermit called out. Indeed there were two birds, but I noticed one of them was smaller, darker, and had a wedge shaped tail. Raven!
What was so odd, so strangely delightful, was that the eagle and the raven were soaring as if they were a pair. The eagle was the leader, and the raven imitated every circle, every wing stroke, staying near the eagle as if they were united in some unseen way. There was no sign of aggression, as ravens and crows often show towards raptors. The two unrelated birds were soaring in harmony. We watched in awe as they circled off into the distance.
Now you may believe in messages from some higher power, or you may believe all the messages are already written down, or you may not believe at all. I do think I was meant to see this. And on New Year's Day, I think it bodes well. May we all accept our differences and fly together as the eagle and the raven.