The Joy of the Common Bird

There is something to be said for the birds that are so common you hardly notice them anymore or you even find them to be pesky. Mallards fill the lakes and ponds. Robins sing in the oak trees outside of your neighbor’s house. Crows pick around in the local schoolyards. Rock Pigeons coo from above in the evergreen tree on your walk around the neighborhood. And who hasn’t had to watch where they’re stepping for fear of the Canada Goose poop? It feels like home when these birds are around. And home could be anywhere from New York City to Grand Junction, Colorado to Southern Oregon. The common birds are what make you recognize a place or remind you of home when you’re far away.

I moved here from the Midwest last summer and one of the biggest differences are the kinds of birds that exist here and back home. I grew up with robins and doves but also with true Blue Jays and real Cardinals.  In fact, Cardinals are so common they’re the Illinois state bird. It blew my mind when I realized those just don’t exist here. I took those birds for granted! I never thought they wouldn’t be there. It is equally amazing to me that there was a time when I’d never seen a Western Scrub Jay or a Stellar’s Jay before I moved here. I see them more often than even the robins! Even Brewer’s Blackbirds are rare back home, although we do have the Grackle (good luck telling the two apart)!

Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
Common “Purple” Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)

The common birds are what make up the scenery of a certain location and they shouldn’t be taken for granted just because they’re everywhere. The unique birds are exciting to see but they don’t describe life in a certain place. Appreciating the birds that make up your hometown can add an element of character to the town that you never noticed before. So stop and listen to your Spotted Towhee if you’re lucky enough to hear one west of the Rockies or watch your Dickcissel singing from the fence post while in the grasslands and remind yourself that these birds are home to you.


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