Waiting for Birdsong

Waiting for Birdsong

I’m writing this blog post between hours of wading through,
not wetlands or streams as I thought I would be on a blue summer day, but
weeks and years of birding survey data. Outside my office window I can see a
murder of crows waiting for bits of fried and sugared bread to be thrown in the
street. The gaggle of tourists chattering and laughing mixes with the string
duet that sometimes plays in the corner. I watch a raven on a rooftop lean into
Skagway’s persistent wind before taking off against the backdrop of a mountain
and its melting snowpack.

My last post makes reference to the patience that’s required to bird, but what I’m learning now is that much of my internship has been a practice in patience more generally. Groaning while I wait for the software needed for my data analysis to download, deep breathes while I wait for the conclusion of a meeting, fidgeting while I count down the hours until I’m scheduled to drive out and see boreal toad habitat. Patience while I wait for a reminder that moving to an unfamiliar and disorienting environment was worth it…and without fail it always comes. The reminders have been a red breasted sapsucker landing close enough to see its bright head for a long minute, crossing paths with a sooty grouse and five of her chicks, crying from exhaustion and gratitude at the summit of Mt. Ripinski, and kind volunteers who have taken the time to teach me how to differentiate between a Thayer’s and Herring Gull. 

I’ve found that the most inspiring thing at Klondike
National Park is not any individual person, but rather the glimpses of life
that make the grueling hours of data cleaning and wrestling with network
connectivity worth it. Last week, I had the pleasure of waking up at two in the
morning to arrive at Historic Dyea to take counts of breeding landbirds. The
landscape was dotted with blooming wildflowers in the soft morning light. As we
stood in silence listening to the symphony of bird song coming from the spruce
and alder trees all around, I was reminded why I’m here.  

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.