In Illinois I used tollways; in California I drive on freeways, and I live under a flyway, which exist in many places but that I knew nothing about before moving here. In the North Sacramento Valley you cannot avoid the “highways in the sky” that birds of all kinds use. Millions of waterfowl make their way up and down the north-south route from Alaska to Patagonia. If you pay attention, you can see many of these species in Chico, and they are a sight to see.
The different bird species fly in shifts as if they have been assigned certain routes. If you have a favorite among these migratory birds, you can predict almost to the day when you’ll see them overhead. Recently, here in Chico snow geese enthusiasts perched at lookout points all over the verdant landscape so their feathered pals could spot them to say hello. That’s how close the watchers and the watched seem to be.
In California, we have about 145 of what the Audubon Society calls “Important Bird Areas,” or IBAs. That translates to “10 million acres of essential habitat for breeding, wintering, and migrating birds.” You may want to check your location here: https://www.audubon.org/ . I really never paid attention before, but there’s a lot going on overhead.
Just as people speak differently in the various regions, so do the sounds from the landscape have their own unique character. This is a patently obvious observation, but something we may miss, or notice only when we are on vacation somewhere.
Most everyone here in Chico speaks the language of nature from plants to animals to fish to birds. I find I like those who care enough about the birds to make a life of living with them and pursuing them, not with the intent to kill, but to listen and see. Year after year the species arrive and move on like clockwork. They leave behind people who remember them; who, however vicariously, take pleasure in their flight. This year the snow geese have left behind an acolyte, a newbie who wishes she too spoke the language of birds.
Just for fun:
Leave it to Ian Anderson to tie the bird theme to life as we know it.