• One Minnesota Writer

This is for the Birds

How did a simple phrase like this is for the birds become a way of saying something is worthless? Or as a reference to horse manure? (yes, really - see here: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/94994/origin-of-for-the-birds-trivial-worthless-only-of-interest-to-gullible-peop).


The only reason I'm thinking about this is because I was surrounded by birds earlier this week: ducks, geese, swans, red-winged blackbirds, blue jays, egrets, woodpeckers, mourning doves, wrens, swallows, sparrows, robins. In other words, a lot of birds. The sound was incredible as all the different voices sang, called to each other, warned of human presence.


This happened early Sunday morning, as my partner Mick and I wandered around near Snail Lake in Shoreview, Minnesota, where there are almost endless trails that encircle lakes, ponds, and hills in a large area of woods and wetlands. The red-winged blackbirds were particularly prolific, flitting right in front of us as we hiked. The males are most noticeable with their sleek black feathers interrupted with a bright red swatch on each wing. The females are, of all things, brown. No black, no red.


male red-winged blackbird

I loved watching the egrets fly low over the water, their wings reflected on the water's still mirror.


egret reflected

Pairs of birds were so sweet together.


Canada geese


blue-winged teals

There were few benches around, but this one caught my eye.


a bench for water birds, perhaps

During the entire hour Mick and I walked along shorelines, climbed hills, and stopped to look at something closer, the birds were never quiet. They had so much to say. This place was truly for them; we were mere interlopers. But we did stumble upon another un-winged being, an unusual one.


black squirrel

The sounds of spring were everywhere that morning and it was the best soundtrack we could ask for.



baby oak leaves

All photos by kcmickelson 2021


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