Preen, eat, and reproduce. While exploring Seaside’s enigmatic Mill Pond with local wildlife enthusiast Susan Boac, I received a lesson in the three vital obsessions that birds spend nearly all their time doing. Eating and reproduction are fairly obvious activities in the wildlife kingdom, but preening took me by surprise. Considering how much time human beings spend looking in the mirror, we have more in common with the feathered world than I first thought.
As we walked the trail that circles the wetlands, Susan explained that while birding, it’s often better to rely on your ears rather than your eyes. It seems like there is a parable buried somewhere in this statement. But sure enough, when I closed my eyes and opened my ears, I heard a cascade of tuneful little melodies coming from every direction. Mill Pond, and the North Oregon Coast in general, is a veritable wildlife playground and sanctuary for an unbelievable number of bird species. Our area is unique considering there are so many diverse environments including the ocean, old growth forest, and fresh water systems. The landscape advertises itself to our migrating friends like an attractive billboard and they sojourn in places like Mill Pond to rest their weary wings.
Spring has definitely sprung and the environment is bracingly alive. The air buzzes with busy humming birds and swallows, and great blue herons stroll through the shallows. The ospreys nesting in Broadway Park are expected to return during April and will get more than their 15 minutes of fame with the osprey cam installed directly over their nest.
As a part of annual Earth Day activities, Susan Boac organizes the North Oregon Coast Bird-a-thon. Open to all, the pledge-based event benefits the Wildlife Center of the North Coast in Astoria (our local bird rescue experts). A worthy cause, the Bird-a-thon gives a boost to the local preservation efforts as well as honors the enchanting and wild vitality of our area. It’s definitely worthy of celebration. Our stunning coastal environment is a feast for the eyes, but I’m happy to have learned that it’s also a banquet for the ears. See you in Seaside!