Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Odd Duck

After my last post I received information from a number of readers. What resonates is the word from a professional ornithologist that the "odd duck" was most likely a juvenile cormorant. It doesn't seem likely . . . but my neighbor did see a cormorant on her daily walk about the same time. Whatever it was, it was out of its normal environment.

Whenever I see something that strikingly out of place, and so blatantly communicating with me (the bird stared at me the whole time it was sitting in the tree outside my window - a couple of minutes ), I know there is a message for me. In this case, I remember one of the first rattles I made out of rawhide. I didn't know what I had done until a friend saw it and said "You've made a cormorant!" The bird-rattle head was lifted higher than the wings. Likewise, the cormorant flies with its head elevated, the only bird I know that does this. When I made the rattle, I had no knowledge that there was such a bird, let alone how it flies!

Since it has appeared in my life, I did look up cormorant, and found some interesting facts. They catch and eat fish underwater. They do the impossible, diving as deep as 100 feet because their bones are heavier than most birds, they swallow pebbles, and they squeeze the air out of their feathers. Long ago the Chinese and until recently the Japanese kept domesticated cormorants to catch fish. They tied a string or a ring around the necks to keep the birds from swallowing their catch of fish.

Ted Andrews in his book Animal-Wise says that when cormorant appears there will be a teaching or new opportunity that enable us to accomplish what doesn't seem possible. It is a reminder to me to do what I have been hesitating about. I am grateful for the reminder!

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