Monday, January 02, 2006

It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's a bird!

The barking in the backyard is sudden and fierce. I glance out the front windows but see no pedestrian, no dog walking past, no reason for such a vehement show. So I go to the backdoor and call for the dogs to come in. Salsa and Pinochet come right away, but reluctantly. Pep, aka The Naughty Dog, refuses to move. She's standing at the corner of the fence looking at something on the roof.

I go outside and look up, expecting to see a squirrel. What I see is an enormous grey bird take off, legs like sticks extending, long neck folded into an S, wings that are so large they cast shadows on the roof.

I'm too stunned to move, but when I do, it's to the telephone to call my father, now going slowly blind, but once a seasoned, well-regarded birdwatcher. He asks a few questions (flat grey, light grey like dove grey, no radiating crown), and determines I have seen a Great Blue Heron.

Length: 38 inches Wingspan: 70 inches
Sexes similar
Huge long-legged long-necked wader
Usually holds neck in an "S" curve at rest and in flight
Long, thick, yellow bill

For the record, I am 62ish inches tall. That bird's wingspan had about 8 inches on me. No wonder I felt like a

A very small person or being.
[After Lilliput, a country in Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, where everything was diminutive.]
"Lilliputian." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 03 . 2006.