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Uncommon Birds: Lessons for Life from a Four-Letter-Word Spring

May 25th, 2019 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, is there any saving grace in this unrepentantly wet spring?

Wretched. Miserable. Depressing. Choose your own adjective or four-letter-word. The weather this spring has been dismal. The sun has been missing in action more days than not. The rain tap turned on early and just will not stop. It is raining again, on a Saturday, as I write this post.

Spring is birdwatching season. My cranky back does not like bending backwards to look up into the foresst canopy. Nonetheless, I am usually out as often as possible hunting migrants. The opportunities this year were few and far between with the persistent bad weather.

In a spring like this one, I have to hope to catch one good weather day when a wave of birds comes through with some uncommon species for my spring list. Fortunately, fate did smile on me once in this forgettable spring.

Orange-Crowned Warblers are not as colourful as many of their more striking warbler cousins. Dingy green with only faint streaking and an orange crown stripe that is seldom visible, they may seem like a ho hum bird. But they are uncommon and therefore a highlight.

Lesson: Beauty sometimes comes disguised in neutral shades.

Cerulean Warblers get a birdwatcher’s blood racing. Uncommon and not often spotted this far north, requiring persistence to encounter, it draws a crowd whenever a male puts in appearance with its cerulean blue garb with black and white markings.

Lesson: Persistence has its rewards when life is uncooperative.

You would think it unlikely to miss spotting a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo. But even birds of this size can evade notice if they choose. I was threading through a narrow path in a thicket when I spotted the top half of one through the maze of limbs and leaves.

Lesson: You have to be prepared to go the extra mile for some of life’s pleasures.

Distinguishing between the very common Warbling Vireo and the uncommon Philadelphia Vireo is a challenge. Fortunately for me, the sun was at the right angle to bring out the yellow wash on the breast of the Philly that crossed my path that day.

Lesson: Sometimes it really is all about perspective.

Perhaps the most important lesson of this day was that you have to may hay while the sun shines in this life. There are times when the good days outnumber the bad by a considerable margin. But the good days can make it all worthwhile if you make the most of them.

Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is also the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

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