Flight of Fancy

Cape Cod Life  /  Annual Life 2023 / ,

Writer: Susanna Graham-Pye

Like the tourists who flock here, the birds we share this special region with change with the seasons. It could be the crows in the scrub pines, cackling. Disturbing the morning with their short cries, a long rattle, punctuated with a caw-caw, another repeats the pattern speaking. Each crow family has a unique language that’s taught to its young. Crows use tools, and care for sick community members. They’ve even been known to leave small treasures for people who feed them.  Or consider this, as if the hummingbird’s ruby throat weren’t enough or its opalescent emerald green wings, these tiny creatures have migrated more than 500 miles daily from as far away as South America, arriving here with their wings beating more than 50 times per second. The only creature able to fly backwards, they fly upside down and hover. Tiny flying jewels, fierce and territorial, they use the fluff of dandelions and milkweed pods to line their nests and spider webs to anchor them. Or the cheeky Black-capped Chickadees, who remember the precise leaf or nook behind which they hid food. They have one mate for a long period of time—if not forever—and their tiny hearts beat 500 times each minute. Whatever flick of color that catches your eye, or snatch of movement in the sky—the undulating flight of the goldfinch or spiraling course of a Red-tailed Hawk riding invisible currents in the air—each is a miracle that reminds us we are miracles too, all somehow here in this vast universe. Cape Cod, a fragile spit of sand reaching out into the Atlantic Ocean, is a major stop on the Atlantic Flyway, one of four routes used by migrating birds that cross the country in a north-south direction. More than one third of the country’s population lives on the…

Want to read this article and more?

Subscribe today to our Digital Edition to gain full access to this article plus every issue of LIFE or HOME for only $9.95.