Monday, March 19, 2012

I Have God-Like Powers (And Other Zoo-Walk-Induced Delusions)

[no one else could have captured this photograph
of a woodpecker on a cherry tree]

The only real drawback to walking through the zoo on beautiful spring mornings is that I’m often distracted from the captive inhabitants by the wild residents. This morning, my observation of lemurs was derailed by the sight of two kinds of woodpeckers hopping in their frenetic, jerking way up tree-trunks and flitting from branch to branch while emitting a series of nasal hoots. One was a red-“bellied” woodpecker—of which I did not get a picture, alas, since then I could prove that the only red on this bird is along its scarlet nape rather than its not-even-rosy belly. The other was either a downy or a hairy woodpecker (if anyone wants to make the tricky identification for me, feel free).

I also saw myriad white-crowned sparrows, many grackles gathering nesting materials, plenty of black-crowned night herons doing the same (not exactly difficult to spot those guys, of course), an infinitude of robins, their red chests swelling with territorial indignation, cardinals arrowing through the trees as they uttered their piercing cheeps, and several ducks (mallard and wood). Although I’m sure that some of the other visitors noticed at least a few of these, I became fairly well convinced that none of them had noticed as many as I had, and—as I glanced left and right and up, spying birds almost as soon as I heard their trills—I began to feel that my powers of observation reached very nearly divine levels.

[There's no evidence that any
other people noticed this heron

Just a few days ago I’d been complaining to a friend that the problem with zoos is that they can instill in some visitors a feeling of entitlement rather than privilege—that the visitors come to feel they have a right to see the animals, and moreover that they are somehow above the rest of nature—invincible, untouchable.

It’s a good thing I’m not one of those kinds of people.

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Anca said...

If you're a god, you're one of the funnier ones. I'm betting on downy for the woodpecker. Very nice shot--it looks crowned with cherry blossoms.

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

Thanks! -It's because I have god-like powers, of course, that I was able to make the cherry blossoms position themselves like that.

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