City Bird, Winter Light

Photographed at Union Bay Natural Area in Seattle • Olympus E-3 + Zuiko 50-200mm + EC14

I’m tracking, with my lens, a Yellow-rumped Warbler who’s bouncing around her kingdom. She stops then hops, as warblers often do. And, for a split second, she clears the branches and looks back at me, bearing the criss-cross shadows of her woods:

Yellow-rumped Warbler at Montlake Fill

Yellow-rumped Warbler at UBNA – ©ingridtaylar

A warning croak in my left ear signals an interloper — a Great Blue Heron who then flaps into view. He drops on a perch, perfectly framed by the same mesh of branches which engulf the warbler.

Great Blue Heron habitat at Union Bay Natural Area in Seattle

Heron Habitat - click for larger image - ©ingridtaylar

The light yesterday was so anomalous that I’m sure I said these words at least 27 times: “Look at that light. I can’t believe that light.” My comment reflects first, how lovely northern, winter light really is, with the sun’s rays beaming at low angles through atmospheric particles, gifting us with magic hours. Second, my comment suggests an ebullience deriving from life in the Northwest, where gray and drizzle drive us into blue tones, mist, and sequestration — and where we all rise from our burrows and dust off like moles when the mystery orb in the sky reappears.

Great Blue Heron as Seattle’s City Bird

Thanks to Larry at the local blog Union Bay Watch, I learned something today about the Great Blue Heron that I didn’t know but should have known: In 2003, the Great Blue Heron was chosen as the City Bird of Seattle. Here’s the process and reasoning through which Resolution 30586 was adopted, unanimously. The American Crow came in second and the Northern Flicker, third, with several other honorable mentions (e.g. the Osprey).

Source: Green Policy 360.net

Resolution Number: 30586

A RESOLUTION designating the Great Blue Heron as the official bird of the City of Seattle.

WHEREAS, Seattle citizens have voted at city parks, in school classrooms, and through other methods for a bird to be designated as Seattle’s official bird; and

WHEREAS, votes for the Great Blue Heron outnumbered the second place finisher, the ubiquitous American Crow, two to one, the Northern Flicker, Seattle’s most plentiful woodpecker, finished the race in third place, and honorable mentions include the “Seattle Wren,” a sub species of the Bewick’s wren; the Osprey, a bird of prey also known as a Seahawk; and the Wilson’s Warbler, a migratory songbird that benefits from shade-grown coffee; and

WHEREAS, the familiar Great Blue Heron is the largest heron in North America having a slate-gray body, chestnut and black accents, and very long legs and neck; and

WHEREAS, the unique geology and ecology of Seattle, including large amounts of open water and wetlands, urban forest habitat, fish and amphibians provide good conditions for the Great Blue Heron to reside all over Seattle; and

WHEREAS, nesting colonies are typically found in mature forests, and do best when they are free of human disturbance and have foraging areas close by; and

WHEREAS, the large and majestic Great Blue Heron has charmed Seattleites of all ages because it is easy to see, identify and enjoy; and

WHEREAS, the City Council and the Mayor recognize that the Great Blue Heron is a common permanent resident in many Seattle parks and greenbelts; and

WHEREAS, the official bird designation offers heron habitat no additional regulatory protection, and

WHEREAS, the official bird designation of the Great Blue Heron will raise public awareness of the unique behavior and habitat requirements of this species, and foster public stewardship for its continued existence; and

WHEREAS, at the request of the Seattle Audubon Society and Seattle citizens,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SEATTLE, THE MAYOR CONCURRING, THAT:

The Great Blue Heron is hereby designated as the official bird of the City of Seattle.

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Comments

    • says

      Maria, warblers are tough. That’s a pretty esoteric statement, isn’t it? You wouldn’t look at a warbler and think “tough.” You’d have to have a lens in hand, struggling for a view between branches. Same with Marsh Wrens in my experience. The only Marsh Wren photos I have to date are bird with reeds across their faces. ;)

  1. says

    Both birds are beautiful enough to gaze at all day long. I love how the shades of each blend in with their respective surroundings. They’re quite the color-coordinated fashion statements, standing on their respective “runways” like top-flight models in all their finery! But more than their lovely outer appearance, I feel their inner calm, and that is what brings me peace. As I’m sure it does their splendid biographer/photographer.

    • says

      Thank you for those kind notes, CQ. The warbler actually did bring me that kind of serenity. I saw her bobbing around the tree branches and wondered if my presence would bother her, if I lifted my lens would she flee? But she went about her business as I looked on. Even though I got just this one precious shot of her little frame, free of branches, I felt at peace just being in her presence as she engaged her world in her own warbling way.

  2. says

    CQ’s observation was exactly what I had in mind to say… Although not quite as poetically. Comparing Ms. Warbler to a runway model really does the trick. Who can’t recall when the shoes had to match the gloves had to match the hat? In bird-fashion it seems the feathers must match the twig, must match the bark, must match the fungi. And the heron it seems must match whatever breathtaking spot he’s in!

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that birds are remarkable beings and that Ingrid is one of their most dependable advocates.
    Bea Elliott recently posted…Eating Humane Meat? You Know it’s a Myth!My Profile

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