| Jun 01, 2006

Nature Reflections

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Nature Reflections - June 1, 2006

The Rainbow

by Jean Griffin

Yesterday I went for a short walk, and heard, then saw two birds who seem to represent the full range of the colours of the rainbow. The first was the Indigo Bunting in its rich deep blue or indigo colouring, perched high on the top of the tallest tree, and proclaiming its presence by song. Part way down the hill and half hidden in the canopy was a Scarlet Tanager also proclaiming its presence and clad in its brilliant red with the black wings and tail - the opposite ends of the colours of the rainbow.

The bird life that arrives back from the south in the spring brings with it richly-hued colours of the rainbow - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, indigo. Almost always it is the male that has the brightest, richest colours, though this is not always the case.


Starting with the reds, other than the tanager, there is the ruby throat of the hummingbird, the rose variation on the breast of the male grosbeak, while the pink of the redpolls has left and headed further north for the summer. The orioles bring in the orange, with glimpses of orange on the American Redstart, and the yellow follows, probably most striking on the male American Goldfinch, who as winter turns to spring, molts from its drab winter plumage into bright yellow with its black cap and wings.

Green is not a colour we readily associate with our spring birds, but the back of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is green, and some of the warblers or vireos can be described (generously perhaps) as greenish, though these small birds may not stay around very long for us to see them. Some of the ducks can also represent greens - the green on the Green-winged Teal, or the greenish sheen on the head of the male Mallard.

We do not need to wait for spring to see the blue of the Blue Jays, both male and female, who are dressed alike. One of the early spring arrivals, the bluebird brings a flash of bright blue to the landscape. Seen much less often, and rather rare, is the Cerulean Warbler who hides in the top canopy of the tallest deciduous trees, and offers its version of blue, almost invisible against a cerulean blue sky.

It is back to the ducks for a hint of violet on the head of the male Lesser Scaup. For other birds with violet it might be necessary to travel south and get a glimpse of a Green Violet-ear or Costa’s Hummingbird.

And then it is the Indigo Bunting for the indigo colour to complete the rainbow.

The beautiful colours of the rainbow are also represented in the plants and trees around us - all we have to do is stop and look. So we celebrate and enjoy the colours of the rainbow, but let’s not forget the soft browns of many birds like the sparrows or Great Horned Owl, the shiny black of the crows and grackles, the grays of the catbirds, and the juncoes, the whites of the gulls and Great Egret, and all the many variations, combinations, and diversity of that exists in nature.

Observations: share your observations, call Jean at 268-2518 or email currawong13

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