Ruth Bass: Early bluebird visit lends a hopeful tone as the New Year rolls around | Chroniclers

Bluebird perched on a snowy branch

A few years ago, a blue bird made an appearance in a flowering crab during a snowstorm in early November. The author spotted a blue bird on January 1, a sign of hope for the coming year.

RICHMOND – This is the season when optimists make resolutions.

This is also when the new bird list begins, the 18th year it is experienced in the computer here. And this is the first time that a blue bird has been listed on January 1, inspiring a smile and a ray of hope for the 365 days of the New Year.

His bluish a little muted in the hazy darkness, he perched on a winter berry shrub with just a few berries remaining, plucked a few and continued on his way.

Perhaps he was one of the birds that hatched in this bluebird-focused neighborhood last spring and knew that two winter berries had been planted there just to see the bluebirds from the kitchen window. He was the first to oblige.

In fact, two winter berries, both female, grow on this slope because the one at the front attracted bluebirds in the fall and wintering robins in January. (The male plant, necessary for pollination, is planted about fifty feet apart in a flower garden.) The newer shrubs, native to New England, had no berries the first two years, s ‘apparently setting up, or perhaps not getting enough attention from the bees.

To link hope to a species of bird may seem absurd. But many American bird watchers share the feeling that bluebirds bring good luck and happiness. And we are not alone. The blue bird has a centuries-old connection with many cultures. One of the earliest examples of attachment to a mythical blue bird was through inscriptions from the Shang Dynasty of China (1788-1122 BC) The blue or green bird was considered a messenger bird for a formidable queen.

In Korean legend, bluebirds flutter around humans and report to the gods. Many children’s books around the world tell stories of blue birds. Native Americans have many stories centered around bluebirds, with one from the Cochiti tribe claiming that the Sun’s eldest son was called Bluebird. Who knew the sun had a son?

I had never even heard of the Cochiti, until I was led to them by a blue bird, but some 1,200 of them preserve their language and culture in a pueblo near the Rio Grande in New Brunswick. Mexico. The more familiar Navajo consider the Mountain Bluebird to be a spirit in animal form associated with sunrise and have a special blue bird song to sing at dawn.

Bluebirds also often appear in Native American art. And in the ever-present Native American awareness of what nature can do when humans make room for it, some tribes hang hollow gourds over garbage piles and meat drying areas so that blackbirds blue have a place to nest. In return, the birds feed on insects attracted to the aromas.

This New Year is the first time I’ve seen a blue bird anywhere in January, or at least in the last 17 years of recording. My first sighting in the Berkshires was in April 1999, but the first sightings in many years have been in places like Seabrook Island in South Carolina, Folkston, Georgia, and Leesburg, Florida.

A momentous event took place at the historic Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia, where we stood on the road where General Lee surrendered to General Grant and ended a terrible war. As we turned to the car, a blue bird landed on the fence. A sign of hope? It was a beautiful sight on a spooky site.

Emily Dickinson of New England, ever vigilant from her self-limiting perch in Amherst and so aware of what nature has placed around her, has a beautiful poem on the annual return of the blue bird, the color “a little weather-worn, “but arriving” before you think of spring. “

Fortunately, a few intrepid bluebirds winter in the Berkshires, one of them visiting me, a messenger of optimism for 2022. If resolutions are made, let one of them be a new will to stop , to watch and to listen. See the bluebirds, smell the roses, hear the people.

Ruth Bass is an award-winning journalist. Its website is The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Berkshire Eagle.

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