Birds Of A Feather

By and for Bird-People

Heron story

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Heron story

I saw a heron earlier today, at the river on the trail.

Herons are not rare, but it was nice because this is the second different species of heron I’ve seen in the exact same spot, so it’s good to know that our area supports a nice diversity. Before, I’ve seen black-crowned night herons. This was a great blue heron… probably the animal you think of when you think of “heron”. It’s the closest I’ve seen one before.

We stopped to watch it, and talked a lot about how the bird is shaped… how the wings fit so close to the body, they almost disappear. How it’s easy to see, looking at a heron, why the Japanese word for beak is kuchibashi (“mouth-chopsticks”). How they have legs like a mountain goat, long and thin and never falling, easily able to move through the river and over the rocks in a beautiful, graceful way. It’s a really perfect bird… designed to be small and light and functional, and every part of it is a tool that can be folded away to save space, like a Swiss army knife.

Just… so much, in that moment, reminding me what is right for me, what is wrong. Watching the heron’s body move… it was beautiful, in the particular way that something is beautiful when it’s right. Think about the feeling when you put the last piece of a puzzle in place, or the moment when you work out how you’re going to put a craft together. That feeling of, “it all fits together, it’s right”, comes rushing back.

Compared to how efficient is a heron, a human looks like a huge, rubber starfish. It reminded me how, every night I go to bed, I have so much problem knowing where to put my arms, my legs. I feel like I should just be able to fold them away… I’m not using them, right? It saves energy, fold them close to the body, keep them warm. So there’s the right, and the wrong. Beauty, watching how it should work… frustration, knowing how it doesn’t work. Those two simple things like opposite forces. Like those paper discs, it has one pattern on one side, and a different pattern on the other, and you spin it fast, and the picture comes together. Right, wrong, right, wrong. Chasing each other. And in the middle, the picture created, is therianthropy.

I feel that feeling almost every time I see a bird, and really stop and notice what they look like, how they move, how they act. It’s just… remembering, all over again. What this means to me, who I am.

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