Sometimes birds are named to describe what they look like, and the male Black-Throated Green Warbler is one of them. This is the time of year when a lot of birds don’t look like they did in the spring, but I could not have confused this fellow with anyone else. I was lucky enough to spend time with him this morning shortly before I had to head into work. I’d been walking around looking for migrants almost an hour and a half, and then he appeared, almost at eye level.
I got to thinking later about how it was when I first discovered birds and they began to let me into their secret world. I had never noticed them before, and suddenly, they were everywhere, unidentified. And because no one else seemed to be paying attention to them, I felt as if I had the key to a secret society.
Now I think about it: how many absolutely gorgeous birds there are on earth that we hardly ever see? Indeed, there are species yet undiscovered. And even when they do show up, how often do we really get to see them well? I’m not too interested in just checking a bird off my list. I want to feel as if we shared a mutual encounter. And that was how it was with this bird. I was special again: graced by his presence, by the moment just between us. No other birds, no other humans. It’s as if I, too, became magical, momentarily protected by his invisible shield. I don’t know what it’s like to be a Black-Throated Green Warbler. But for a moment I inhabited the same space on the planet with one.
Later this afternoon when I went out again, I encountered the same bird in the same location and let him be. But elsewhere in the park, I found another male, and managed to get a picture of him. You can see the “green” he is named for.