Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Swallows are Gone!

On Sunday morning I turn first, even before the comics, to Rick Marsi's column in Binghamton's Press and Sun Bulletin. He is a naturalist in the vein of Hal Borland who wrote a nature column for The New York Times for years and who I greatly admired. (Someday I'll write more about Borland.) Nature in your own backyard is Marsi's forte, and he writes often about kayaking on the Chenango and Susquehanna Rivers too.

This morning he wrote about birds leaving the area in early September, especially swallows, and I realized what I should have noticed earlier. The reason it is suddenly so buggy around here is that the purple martins and barn swallows are gone. Just the other day there were orderly rows of them on the wires overlooking our back yard, swooping down across the pond, and giving me an aerobatics show while I mowed. Now, nothing! As much as I enjoy them, I guess I was just too busy to realize they weren't here.

All I'm seeing now are blue jays, sparrows, and occasionally a few starlings in our yard. The hummingbirds aren't here anymore, the red wing backbirds have gone away, and all that's left cruising the sky are vultures and sometimes a hawk. I'm amazed that it took Marsi's column to bring all this to my attention, but then he often makes me see things I would have overlooked.

I have two of Marsi's books and I hope he never stops writing his column. If you live outside this area, look for his work on the Press & Sun-Bulltin website,

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