It’s all about the first bird you see on New Year’s Day. Recently I read an article by Margaret Renkl in the New York Times. The article was titled Spring is Coming. Ms Renkl said “There’s a New Year’s tradition among bird-watchers: the first bird you see on New Year’s Day is your theme bird for the year. Your spirit bird, the bird that sets the tone for your encounters with the world and with others, the bird that guides your heart and your imagination the the coming year.”
I was taken with this idea. Winter often has periods of seemingly endless gray days – short days and long nights. I was excited about having a spirit bird. The first bird I saw on January 1st was a western bluebird. I don’t recall having seen many bluebirds around my home before, but there are lots of this year. Since these gorgeous birds are all over Santa Fe, I wondered why.
I was surprised to see the bluebirds since I always thought these birds wanted open spaces – I live in a wooded area. As it turns out, western bluebirds are found in a variety of habitats including open evergreen forests. The birds arrive in flocks and descend on the junipers. This season seems to have produced a bumper crop of berries – all the juniper around are loaded. They are also at the birdbath for water (and sometimes a bath) several times a day.
There’s ample lore about bluebirds – they symbolize happiness (the Bluebird of Happiess was the title of a 1934 song) and in Russian lore the bluebird was symbol of hope. In the lore of the Cochiti tribe, the firstborn son of Sun was named Bluebird.
The western bluebird looks a lot like the eastern bluebird and I’m delighted to have them around. They are surely brightening my winter days!