Judging birds

By Nancy Black

Red birds are the best. Blue birds are mean. Those big, black birds? They are bullies.

Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata) and Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula). They are all birds, right? But I found myself sitting in my backyard one morning this week, judging the birds that were fluttering by. They were busy with their morning rotations, flying from one tree top to the next, swooping around the sky.

“Watch out for those guys,” I said to my dog, referring to the two Blue Jays who had just landed on our neighbor’s roof. “They’re mean.” The thought made me recall a big, black grackle I saw at an intersection recently. He was poofing his wings out as he chased another, smaller bird away from the patch of grass he was claiming as his own. Who made him King of the Road?

Whenever I see a Cardinal, I feel a sense of peace come over me. They are good, serene birds, in my book.

As I sat there, realizing I was judging birds, it dawned on me that is the same way I used to judge people. In my youth, and even in later years, I was definitely one of those people who judged a book by its cover. I grew up hearing, “You’re not going out looking like that, are you?” My mother meant well; she wanted me to look nice. But she also wanted my “cover” to look nice. She knew people did, indeed, judge others by their outer appearance.

Did you know that grackles actually have the ability to interpret the Earth’s magnetic field and the variability of it? I didn’t. Another Wikifact? “A study conducted in 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia, on West Nile virus (WNV) transmission in the United States, found that unlike other species, cardinals biologically suppress the disease upon infection.” Hum. Who knew? And those mean ole blue jays? They actually protect other birds from predators by screeching an “alarm” to alert them of approaching danger.

Every bird has a unique quality worthy of admiration. Every person does, too.

I am so thankful I have finally stopped judging people, and now birds, by the way they look. Actions speak louder than words, or appearances, in my book these days. Speaking of action – how ’bout them Eagles?!