I shared this morning with a pair of Lincoln’s Sparrows located just north of Southwest Pond. All three of us had come out of hiding to soak up the warmth of the sun after a clear winter’s night had radiated all the Earth’s heat back into space. Mist lay smoking over the ponds and lakes, and every blade of grass was coated with ice.
Lincoln’s Sparrows are chunky little guys with Arnold Schwarzenegger necks – thick looking, you know, and muscle-bound, although in the birds’ case it’s probably mostly feathers. They combine this wrestler look with a delicate array of fine stripes washed with a pale beige in the front. Usually when you see them (if you ever do – they are pretty shy), their head feathers are raised in a kind of alarm-crest, as though they had stuck their beaks into an electric socket.
These particular sparrows were all puffed up like pincushions to keep out the cold. I was puffed up too, with layers and layers of clothing. All of us were too cold to move. We perched on our respective twigs and camp stool with half-closed eyes, taking in the scenery all around us.
Lincoln’s Sparrows live in a small world of willow wands, grasses, and snowberry bushes. In the winter, all is bare of green and leaf but not bare of beauty. The branches in this little section of the Fill glowed flame-orange in the sun, bright gold, chocolate brown, soft yellow and ruby red.
You don’t need to travel all the way to the Grand Canyon to see nature’s palette of reds and golds set against a lazuli sky of blue. Grandness exists on a small scale too, right here in our own backyard. It’s awesome.