Over the 44 years I’ve lived in Southeast Alaska, behavior of two once-wary species has changed remarkably—probably due to lessening persecution by once-heedless people slowly adopting the Tlingit practice-&-concept of yáa at wooné, respect. Surveilling from the outskirts of the noisy human enterprise, these 2 birds have morphed from spooky to relaxed.
Most obvious is Yéil, raven, who perched calmly on a railing 5 feet from us as we walked home though a snowstorm today. The other is láxʼ, great blue heron.
Back when I drew this fishing heron (4-pose sequence), if you’d told me that in 40 years I’d film láxʼ in suburbia, from just 20 yards away, I’d have been touched and relieved. First, that these birds could ever forgive us (naturalist Rich Gordon told me in the 1970s local teenagers used em for plinking practice). And secondly, that people (or at least enough people) might someday become more gracious co-inhabitants of a shrinking planet.
A week ago, 10 herons descended together into our neighbor’s spruce; today, just one. S/he consented to star in our movie, shot with iPhone, attached to Kowa spotting scope. I’ve left the audio track on, with our scopeside discussion, even though it catches me imparting some misinformation. First, the bird is not a subadult; only in dull winter plumage. Secondly, I vaguely (mis)remembered brooding egrets at a Texas rookery with brilliant-colored eyes. But it’s actually the lores, between bill and eye, that flame up in breeding season. Livid green in great egrets, and crimson on snowies.
Jeez! Two flubs in 60 seconds! Oh well, I guess that’s why I do my homework, edging eagerly & unresolvedly towards truth in these eclectic post-field editing sessions . . .