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  • Writer's pictureRowan Van Lare

An Ode to the Forest Birds I Have Loved Most Dearly

By Rowan Van Lare, PhD (Bird-watching)

Oh, Grackle, how dost thou shine brightly from thine neck - a rainbow of iridescence against sleek, black down - and why now dost thou go unnoticed? Let me thus hark-

You get the point. Old, medieval-y words. I could probably write a sonnet, but I don’t want to. I just want to tell you straight up about my top five favorite forest birds.

The first being the Common Grackle. What a beautiful goddamn bird. Look at this bird.

Truly a unicorn. So rainbowy. So many beautiful, beautiful feathers. So many. Those eyes. Like the moon on a placid lake at midnight. A simple bird in structure, no fancy crest like its relatives, the Cardinals, nor is it big and gaudy like a hawk. It is a simple creature in nature easily found in North America.

And now for my second pick.

This one is a bit cliche, but I have a great love for the Chickadee. An adorable little bird, the Chickadee is a classic because of its huge head and eyes and little body. That’s an adorable thing to us because babies are like that and we are evolutionarily predisposed to love babies. This is a Chickadee if you’re dumb and don’t know what one looks like.

This is specifically the Black-Capped Chickadee, located in New England. That’s one you’ll find around here, Northeastern University. You’ll know it’s a Chickadee because its name is an onomatopoeia, that’s the noise it makes. Of course, you’re going to hear Chickadee-dee-dee-dee because Chickadees add more “dee”s as an alarm. The closer you get to it, the more “dee”s will be added to its little call. It’s terrified of you. Back away from the cute little bird, large, clumsy human!

And now for a wonderfully named, super cute and trendy bird: the Tufted Titmouse.

I had to put the picture first because I didn’t think you’d believe me when I told you it was true; the Tufted Titmouse does exist. It’s plural: Tufted Titmice. Not only does it have a hilarious name, it’s got an adorable little crest on the top - that’s the tuft part of the name - and it’s got some nice colors on the side, providing some sweet and easy-to-point-out field marks. It’s always a good find when you see a Tufted Titmouse in the forest.

And now for another pick, one that all ornithologists should anticipate seeing on this type of list.

The Timberdoodle!

BEautiful. The most gorgeous little thing. And what’s its second name? The Woodcock.

The beautiful little Timberdoodle. Look at its nose. Look at its black eyes, look at the distance between its nose and its black eyes. Impossible to spot, impossible to track down… these are the most elusive birds. I would never believe it if I hadn’t spotted one in my ornithology class a year ago. I truly would not. It seems too mythical to be true.

And now we are finally on the last take, the most controversial one on this list, but also my favorite forest bird in goddamn existence. The European Starling.

Look at this majestic fuck. It has the iridescence of the grackle with the pizazz of the entire night sky. It’s got a beak that’s like half the size of its fucking body like the Timberdoodle but it’s got huge black eyes like the Chickadee. Well, most birds have black eyes, but whatever. It’s a gorgeous little specimen. While controversial, because it’s an invasive species that accidentally came over from Europe (given its name). But whatever. Who cares. Who cares about the fact that he’s not supposed to be here. He’s a cool guy. I’m honestly just so happy that this thing exists. I’m so happy that this thing is in the same plane of existence as me. Look at this gorgeous little bird.



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