Native to North America, the brown-headed cowbird (so named for its distinctive brown head, of course, and its habit of following bison herds when they were grazing across the great American plains) has recently been seen in the UK. Surely, however, an eager cowbird male would not casually travel to our garden to find a mate?
I was too slow to snap a photo of a strange-looking bird in our garden, yesterday, with a dark body plumage and a discrete brown head, but I’d like to think that maybe we did have a visitor of the cowbird persuasion. With some wonderment, I tried to identify the odd-looking creature. I’d thought at first it was a juvenile blackbird, and perhaps it was, but then again, what a delight if our garden had been a source of interest to a hungry, foreign bird. It was certainly keen on the animal life it could find in the grass after the heavy rains. But I couldn’t say for sure that the body plumage was iridescent black, as male cowbirds are supposed to have, and in contradistinction to the sun-shaded image above, female heads don’t exhibit such a discrete colour difference. Perhaps I was just cheerfully deluding myself.
I had another occasion to be cheerful this morning, as my little amalgamation of memoir and fiction was published by VisualVerse.org in response to this month’s ekphrastic stimulus. I’d conjured up a different sort of courtship ritual, off-scene as it were, in my piece on Risk Aversion. I really like the brief that the friendly VisualVerse.org folks present on the first of every month: one stimulating image; one hour of writing; one piece submitted. One hundred pieces are published of the several hundred received by mid-month. I’ve been delighted to be among the published number for half a dozen times now.
Sometimes it’s a poetic response that feels appropriate, sometimes prose. I don’t know what you’d call memoir with fictive bits, but it was fun, nevertheless, to spend an hour working on a creative response to a rather bizarre image.
And fun, isn’t that the point: to think, to look, to imagine, to wonder at this and that? Bring on the open-eyed, open-minded joy.