The hummingbirds left first. And it won’t be long before the loons leave too, taking with them their happy, haunting music.
All summer we enjoyed their company on a lake in Northern Wisconsin. And now, these feathered friends and hundreds of other species are leaving on their long journey across the country to as far away as the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. I wonder where they will find food and rest? How many miles will they cover in a day? Do they press on through the night guided by starlight?
But mostly, I wonder, how many will return?
For shockingly, recent scientific research reported that the North America bird population has declined by over 3 billion birds in the last fifty years, particularly migratory birds. That’s a quarter of our bird population. Not surprisingly, potential causes point to climate change, loss of habitat, and toxic pesticides.
Just last night I once again heard the low hoot of a great horned owl from our back woods. And on this morning’s walk along the swift waters of the Fox River, I was graced by an eagle circling overhead, a blue heron standing as sentry upon the shore, and a white egret taking flight like a winged angel. What would it be like if they were no longer with us?
Before long, the miracle of migration for these and other avian friends will soon take place. Their departure leaves behind a sad silence and an empty landscape. For not only does their beauty and song go with then, but some of our own spirit as well. Let us not lose them both.
Oh, come back, come back I pray.
Photo Credit: CONNIE KUNTZ / WNIJ