Night Heron

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They surprised me. Two nesting black crowned, night herons. They lifted off together, circled around me and landed in a tree stand a few yards off. They make nests in thickets by rivers and streams and cattail beds in marshes. I was just turning the corner on the walk toward the marsh and they suddenly appeared in the air. I’d never seen this bird before and the trail took me right beneath them. I had my camera but took no photographs.

When I am so fortunate as to stumble upon wildlife, especially that which is rarely seen, I feel almost an intruder. Here they are at twilight building their nest and preparing for a night’s hunt for food and I stumble in, a party crasher in pink and lavender. No different than a juggler walking into my bedroom at midnight. So I left the camera in my pocket and just observed.

The breast of the male is a curious greenish yellow, but irridescent in the late afternoon sun. His mask has a slice of rich lapis blue. He peers at me as I walk past. I silently apologize for the intrusion. The female is deeper into the tree and is seen as just an eye peeking around the trunk. Once past, I turn and bow. Always be grateful for such moments. They are spirit taking hold of your heart.

Morning Call


It’s so quiet I can hear myself breathe. Then he begins to sing. Piercing and long are his calls. The eastern horizon is but a paler shade of midnight blue, hardly an inkling of sunrise, but he knows. I listen without moving. I can’t see him, but he sounds like a Western Wren or possibly a Yellowthroat. I wonder how he knows in all this dark. More curious is how the others remain quiet for at least fifteen to twenty minutes. This time gap is as consistent as the sun. It’s as if everyone is in the silent awe of daybreak. Not a sound, not a tweet, not a bark. Just that single, piercing note to call us all to the eastern alter. So I pray. I fix upon the distant horizon and I talk to the spirits about all I have to be grateful for. Such wonder fills me that I then realize how he knows, but more importantly, why he sings.