Birding Along the Susquehanna
Written Spring of 2005
Did you ever try “birding”? Recently, on a beautiful spring Saturday, I packed a lunch and headed to Lancaster County to go birding. My older brother Philip asked me to meander around the Susquehanna River in search of some birds on his “to see” list. We hiked through nearby woods, but we also just sat, with nowhere to go and nowhere to be, waiting patiently for the next avian sighting. Do you realize how spectacular a Baltimore oriole (often called the Eastern oriole) looks when the sun hits it? Its cousin, the Orchard oriole has a “show me” spirit as well. But the high point of the day was watching a bald eagle feeding its young in a huge nest of branches high above us in an electricity tower. It is exciting to see the return of the bald eagle to our region and we were even privileged enough to look through a fellow birdwatcher’s scope and see the yellow of the eagle’s eyes as it majestically surveyed all of us, turning its distinctive beak from side to side. The bald eagle has an elegance and sophistication all its own.
But even more importantly, it meant a lot for me to be able to spend a day alone with my brother. You see, I am the youngest of five and came along six years after my mother discarded all her baby clothes. Philip is 12 years older than me and unfortunately I was only six when he left our home for 1-W service in Colorado. I’ve known Philip all my life, but don’t remember ever being alone with him for any length of time. So, it was kind of like getting to know an old friend in a more meaningful way. It was worth the awkwardness that I think we both felt at first when we later realized how much we’d learned about each other. That day of birding was a day of reconnecting with my brother and with the quiet and beauty all around us. It was a special treat to find familiarity and common ground in the admiration of God’s gifts in nature.