Elegy for a Bluebird

bluebird_150.jpgYesterday I discovered a small western bluebird lying beside the front porch. Apparently she’d died after flying into the large glass panels we put up for winter. Now that it’s warmer, and the migrating spring birds are returning, it’s time to replace the glass with screens.

I hold this lovely tiny bird in my hand, saddened by the unintended consequences. I think of the turkey chicks who tumbled into the ditches we’d dug for our utilities back in 1990. It is impossible to not create hazards for wild creatures.

There is so much we’ve imposed on them that’s totally outside their experience of the natural world — speeding automobiles on roads, wide freeways cutting off migration paths, dams the spawning salmon can’t get past. Our march of “progress” clearcuts forests, fragments habitats, and creates deserts wherever civilization sweeps across the planet.

Robyn noted, “What happens all ways and everywhere when the natural world meets civilization is that some part of the natural world dies.” When and if human cultures become, or return to being, sustainable, I trust there will be far less damage to the natural world.

Feeling my sadness for our unintended consequences, I honor this feathered friend by drawing her beautiful form and color. She rests on our porch table for a week, like an altar for remembrance. Meanwhile we replace the glass with the screens, as we transition to the warm season, and for the sake of her companions.


  1. I esteemed yours blog,
    thanks the author a lot of useful to myself have found..

  2. Your story reminded me of my ceramic instructors story of the family cat of 12 years getting caught in the new garage door opener he had purchased for his wife to surprise her with. He was very stressed and late for class that day as he had to put his beloved kitty to sleep she was so mangled. This was 20 plus years ago. The moral of the story was very similar. I never forgot the story and your story reminded me of that lesson. Thank you

  3. Stuart M. says:

    That’s a very beautiful drawing. What you say about nature usually losing when it is invaded by civilization is true. Diversity is usually the first to go as the weaker species who rely on a small habitat can’t survive the onslaught. The more adaptive species like crows and seagulls seem to thrive on man’s waste and soon all one sees are those two species (in my town here in Japan). Will our world someday have only crows, raccoons and dandelions?

    There are many electricity-generating windmills here on the island of Hokkaido and a disturbing trend has been the increasing number of sea eagles and other birds that have been struck by the windmill blades. I’m all for wind energy, but it’s sad every new technical “fix” we find brings some new barrier or obstacle that impacts nature.

    We must relearn “living lightly,” living in tune with the cycles and limits of nature. Unfortunately, the soon-to-be 9 billion people (by 2050) on this planet can’t be supported like that. But the earth can’t support that many people any other way, either!

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