From my desk I look over the Embudo River, now in near flood with snowmelt from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to my east. The Embudo flows into the Rio Grande, a major thoroughfare for bird migrations. We are heading into the peak of the northward flight of millions of migratory birds, an extraordinary feature of living on earth, a small scale spectacle easy to miss if you aren't paying attention. The migration includes winter residents departing, beginning with the sandhill cranes in late February and many species of ducks in small groups, beginning in March, all heading north to find the right spot to have a family. It also includes the return from South and Central America in April and May of species who will breed and raise families here, for whom the riparian environments of this desert region make perfect summer homes, the swallows, the warblers, even the vultures. And then there are the fly-over birds, the ones who make a brief stop here on their way elsewhere and give us a glimpse of themselves if we are paying attention. I always keep my eye out for the Western Tanager, a stunner in yellow and orange.
Yesterday I heard the chatter of what seemed like hundreds of birds in the big spruce in the side yard. By the time I got outside to investigate, they had flown, a tight pod of many small birds I couldn't identify who had continued on their journey after a brief rest. I hoped their journey would be a safe one. I hoped they wouldn't run into windows of tall buildings are wind turbines or other dangers and that when they arrived at where they are going there would be places to nest, abundant food and water and others of their kind. Then I thought of all the people in this world who are migrating. Not because it is in their nature to wander but because of war, violence, hunger, drought and oppression. They hope to find places to rest, enough to eat and drink and people who will welcome them. I can't see the arrival of the hummingbirds without thinking of the children migrating north from Central America. I say a prayer for all those migrating in hopes of finding the essentials of survival. May they all find what they are seeking.