Sunday, November 29, 2009

Not for the Prairie

A visit to the prairie on Saturday revealed Dark-eyed Juncos, American Tree Sparrows, Fox Sparrows, Sandhill Cranes, American Goldfinches, one Red-winged Blackbird, a few Blue Jays, and American Crows. It was chilly, but the warming sun combined with a lack of wind rendered it a gorgeous morning to be outside. I love the calmness that allows every subtle sound to be heard; wing beats of nearby songbirds, and the geese flying overhead.

As Dottie Johnson and I walked our usual route around the main field, we pondered what the scenery might look like in a few years. I learned through the grapevine that the Ackers are not at all interested in selling their farmland (shown boxed in red below) to Dane County Parks for the purpose of increasing the size of Pheasant Branch Conservancy's prairie. What will likely become of this parcel? Have a look to the lower-right to get an idea. There's more money to be made in development. But more houses mean more window collisions during nocturnal bird migration, and more roaming cats.

I don't think one could place a housing development at a worse location, so near where tens of thousands of songbirds stage throughout spring and fall. From the heart of my anguish, I suppose I ought to just be thankful there's even any conservancy at all. What presently feels like an expanse will seem more enclosed and encroached upon. Some will say I'm rebelling against change, and that change is a constant in our world. Others will call me selfish. Whatever my motives are, I want to know why it remains so intensely difficult and time consuming to teach even just one person the value of a songbird's life.

It will also ruin the view looking north!

"Where is the power of our error? We find it was after all not in the city, but in ourselves."

--Thomas Merton

© 2009 Mike McDowell


  1. Precisely the reason why I admire conservation groups that pool resources to compete with developmental pressures!

  2. Great Junco capture Mike is that a new one?

  3. Kevin,

    New to everyone but me!



  4. quote
    I want to know why it remains so intensely difficult and time consuming to teach even just one person the value of a songbird's life.

    I like the Blake quote, and for awhile now I have been captitalizing the common names of critters, like Wood Duck. And I got that from Blake's, Tyger Tyger. He capitalizes Tyger in the manuscript, twicetwice, but often on the web copies, this is missed-- the 'y' too! And in the poem 'he' is little 'h'. Blake was irreverant, and maybe that's what it takes. Our culture capitalizes Corvette, and Stealth, but uses lower case for common critter names. I'm fine myself with capital 'H', and think maybe captializing critters names, would put an emphasis on the sentiment of your lament!