Does anyone know anything about animal spirits? Specifically, what does it mean when an American Bittern repeatedly presents itself to you? We have seen this bird several times in the last few weeks. One evening, soon after we completed the first walls of the new house, it flew low over the house. The other day at the pond, I swam across to the other side, a distance of probably 100 feet or less, and the bittern emerged from a clump of sedge it had been lurking in for at least the half hour I had been there. Yesterday, again at the pond, it flew low directly over us. I always thought bitterns were rather elusive, timid birds that were rarely seen. Certainly I had never seen one up close before this year.
Autumn is sliding in. It is present in the yellow leaves of the young birches that have given up hope of enough rain to produce any more this year. It is present in the flock of hundreds of blackbirds, rising and falling like a cloud. It is present in the hummingbirds, visiting the feeder with increasing urgency as they prepare for migration. It is present in the common nighthawks, flocking together in swirling swarms; I had not seen a nighthawk all summer. And it is present in the bands of cedar waxwings, feeding on ripe chokecherries.