Birds’ habits reflect how we spread our wings

As I sit here thinking about the month of April, Arbor Day and Pets Are Wonderful month, I am suddenly startled by a flock of sagey birds that seem to come hurdling bent on destruction toward my bank of windows. They take a sprightly hard right and land among the naked willow branches just outside my glassed barrier.

Ten, no 20, now 25 I count, each claiming a spot on their preponderant perch. “King of the Branch” seems to be their game. This one hops higher than his neighbor. That one thinks the willow to the right is more delectable. Another still claims the exact spot just abandoned. They shuffle and juggle, they abandon and claim anew.

The east-willow first fascinated the vast majority of these elusive birds with only two birds claiming the willow to the right, the willow of the hinterland. Then an east-willow feathered friend joins the two, then four flit to the hinterland willow; then one, then two, and then by fours they en masse — all but two — settle among the right-willow’s branches. (It is the right willow after all, isn’t it?)

They nestle now, among their flock. They seem satisfied with this night’s resting place. Still two loners remain content with their eastside home, now the new hinterland — the mass exodus turning the hinterland to hamlet and now to willow suburbia.

Then, forthwith, one flies from the suburb, another, then another until all of a sudden 20 and more fly the field, west they go toward the McCulloughs. (What? Was this perch not indeed the right willow?) Abandoned, the branches lie dormant of inhabitants. Yet, still, the two feathered loners rest among the east-willow. They cock their heads, they preen their plumage. Then, as loners, they too spread their wings, heading east for Lake Mead or maybe the pinions of Prescott.

How like nature we are. We long for open spaces, we settle within her valleys or peaks or along her singing rivers. We strike out on our own to find happiness, find our true love or just walk our lone path. We strive to find our own branch on which to be king or queen. We hop from job to job, hamlet to city, claiming our respective territory in our pursuit of that elusive joy that is supposed to be our goal.

Then another finds our company and landscape set apart for just what they desire; they make their claim. We gather one by one, then by twos and fours; then by 10, no 20, now 25. Then of a sudden, we find ourselves “neighbored.” No longer “on our own,” we wake one day and find ourselves surrounded by humanity.

There is safety in numbers — at least someone said that. We shuffle and juggle, then abandon and claim anew. The home we first held so perfect is now surrounded — too small, inadequate, certainly not the perfection we once thought. The solitude of the hinterland we so longed for, or thought we did, is overcome by urban pollution and the wings among the willows are now seen as nuisance and cause distress.

Do we acclimate to our new environment? Do we fight the battle to maintain what once was? Who is right? Who is not? Do we reside with the flock or become our own Jonathan Livingston Seagull? There is no right to the questions at hand, except what is right for you — for me. One thrives within solitude while another just barely survives it. One’s light pollution is another’s glitter and glamour of life, their very life blood.

And so we leave en masse each weekend, taking flight for the quiet of yesteryear or for the solitude among the desert willow. We head west to Mount Charleston, east to Mount Wilson, north to Valley of Fire, south to Christmas Pass. Or perhaps we scramble for the chatter and color of the strip, buzz among the roar of ATVs or join the throngs at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

By 10s we go, no by 20, now 25. Others traverse alone or coupled. All to their Shangri-La, their Utopia, their Pie-in-the-Sky, so that we may, once again, in our own way, spread our wings.

Expand the envelope. No pain no gain. Push the limit.

All just terms for spreading our wings.

Cat Trico has been a resident of Boulder City since 2003 and is a past president of the Senior Center and co-founder of the Decker Lake Wetlands Preserve. As an author and editor, she contributed to “Rights, Responsibilities, and Relationships” for youth. She can be reached at

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