Monday, August 1, 2016

Bird Feet

Here at the beach the snowy plovers have hatched but are not yet able to fly. They skitter around on the sand like so many tiny tumbleweeds. A sign warns beachcombers to beware. They camouflage themselves so well that it would be easy to step on them.

I spotted a couple of these cuties on a beach walk. A small crowd had gathered to watch the newly hatched chicks. Seeing them at their crazy ballet got me thinking about bird feet in general.

Though it's a bird's wings not its feet that most singularly propels it, shore birds are an exception — from gulls hopping up to beg for sandwich scraps to sandpipers running through the surf.

This morning I spied a tern daintily dipping its webbed toe in a tidal pool. I saw a yellow-footed snowy egret with a long white mane like an aging conductor. And I saw a pelican land nose first in the water, its feet flapping behind.

Bird feet were central in all of these tableaux. And I'll think about them long after the beach walk is over.

(A bird on the wing instead of on foot.)


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