Inspired by Birds

My husband, Bret Bosma, and I became Volunteer Naturalists with Greenbelt Land Trust for the first time this year.  We have been fans of Bald Hill and Fitton Green for years for a variety of reasons.  It is a short bike ride to miles of trail for running, walking our dog, and just meandering around and looking out for new plants and animals as the season change.  It has been really fun to spend time there in “official” capacity and get to know other users, volunteers, and staff and continue learning about all the fabulous plants and animals in Corvallis’ backyard.

An American goldfinch (Spinus tristis) perches near a prairie at Bald Hill Farm. The tape to the left “shows” wildlife that there is a fence.

On our Volunteer Naturalist excursion, a couple weeks ago, the birds were out! As we walked along the Mulkey Ridge Trail, we caught sightings of some wild turkeys and a pileated woodpecker.  As we continued down the trail, we alerted fellow visitors about our sightings and people were very excited to have the opportunity to catch a glimpse too. I started thinking about why birds are so much fun to watch and try to identify, even for casual birders like my husband and me.

Birds are an omnipresent part of our lives, so it would be so easy to overlook how diverse and wonderful they are.  From an ecological perspective, I know they fill essential roles in pollinating, dispersing seeds, and as predators and scavengers, but they also seem to inspire people in so many ways.  From visual art to music and literature, it seems our collective love of and intrigue with birds has been the seed for many creative outlets.

A tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) pair watch and tend to their nest in one of the nesting boxes along the trail.

I have two Audubon prints in my home that once hung in my grandparents’ spare bedroom. I remember studying the prints as a child and noting ways that the birds were similar or different to the birds I saw in my yard.  I remember making up stories about the birds in the prints and dreaming about them as I slept.  It made me wonder what sort of creativity the birds I saw that day at Bald Hill Farm might spark in any of the visitors I had passed.  Perhaps a masterpiece is in the works!

Blog post by Emily Comfort and photos by Bret Bosma, GLT Volunteer Naturalists