Seattle resident and renowned author Ivan Doig reflected on a world without birds in his book-length meditation, Winter Brothers (available in the BirdNote store). "A birdless world, the air permanently fallow, is unthinkable. To be without birds would be to suffer a kind of color-blindness. Occasional flashing hummingbirds; seasonal grosbeaks - masked like society burglars. - There exist few everyday necessities in my life, but birds are among them." See such a bird - an Evening Grosbeak - to the right.
Ivan Doig passed away on April 9, 2015. Learn more...
Ivan Doig on a Birdless World
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote!
A world without birds? What would such a bereft planet look like? Or sound like? Rachel Carson’s ground-breaking book, Silent Spring, warned of such a birdless world. Author Ivan Doig reflects on such a world in his work, Winter Brothers:
“ .,. a birdless world, the air permanently fallow, is unthinkable. To be without birds would be to suffer a kind of color-blindness, a glaucoma gauzing over one of the planet’s special brightnesses. [Bushtits twittering] Bushtits must bounce again out there on the thin ends of birch branches like monks riding bell ropes. [Bushtits twittering]
A fretful nest-building robin – [American Robin call notes and song] we always have one or two nattering in the trees at either end of the house – must gather and gather dry spears of grass until the beakful bristles out like tomcat whiskers. Towhees, chickadees, flickers, juncos. All the creatures of this planet that do not know they have splendid names. [Call of Spotted Towhee]
Occasional flashing hummingbirds [Anna’s Hummingbird wings]; seasonal grosbeaks who arrive in the driveway and, masked like society burglars, munch on seeds amid the gravel. [Evening Grosbeak calls] Besides my wife Carol and the pulse of words across paper, there exist few everyday necessities in my life, but birds are among them.”
[Evening Grosbeak calls]
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Bird audio provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Bushtit calls 120213 and call of Spotted Towhee recorded by G.A. Keller. American Robin song recorded by W.L. Hershberger and call by G.A. Keller. Evening Grosbeak calls recorded by T.G. Sander. Anna’s Hummingbird recorded by A.A. Allen.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2011 Tune In to Nature.org August 2011 Narrator: Mary McCann
From Doig, Ivan. Winter Brothers: A Season at the Edge of America. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980, p. 56.