Things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream (from HMS Pinafore, by Gilbert and Sullivan).

Another way of putting it is that one doesn’t always know what they think they do. Or, as been so well demonstrated during the pandemic, knowledge needs updating. Learning, I believe it is called.

A very small way in which I have been re-educated concerns local birds. As I’ve mentioned before, during this time, getting outside and in nature has been lovely, and as it’s been one of the few open options, been done almost daily. I’ve always liked being out in the wild world, and at the same time, its been more about being out in it and less about knowing the names of the plants and animals who inhabit a place. In general, I know a bit, but not a whole lot.

That has been changing, as I’ve endeavored to learn a bit more of my surround. I’ve known a few birds for years and have been gradually adding more. The ones we see frequently–hawks, crows, eagles, finches, robins, doves, blackbirds. And some we hear more than we see, one of which we were calling phoebes, as that was clearly the sound we heard.

Last Friday, BA and I paid a visit to the new incarnation of our local independent bookstore. I’m kind of a sucker for bookstores. Clothes shopping, as noted yesterday is not my thing, but in a bookstore, I can go wild. I had picked out some books and was browsing when I found a laminated folder with colorful photos of birds, Sibley’s Backyard Birds of the Rocky Mountain States. A few months ago, I had purchased Sibley’s Birds of the western US, which was had been highly recommended. It’s very detailed, and textbook like. This little folder is handy, portable, and I can look things up very quickly. With just a few sentences accompanying each photo, its a quick and interesting scan.

Reading through, I was looking at black-capped chickadees, another familiar bird, and I read about its sounds. The chatter: “chick a dee-dee-dee-dee” and its whistle: “fee-beeyee”. Say what? Are the “phoebe” sounds we’ve identified really chickadees? Yesterday, we got our answer. Heading along the path, BA and I were passing a yard with some grapevines and bushes. The familiar whistle occurred. I stopped and watched, and it was repeated, from a black-capped chickadee. I’ve learned something.

There are birds called phoebes, also a small bird, with a similar call, but they are largely found in the eastern US. According to the Audubon site, they rarely, if ever, pass through Colorado. We have lots of chickadees and lots of calls year round. I’ve learned something, and in a small way, expanded my knowledge. I’m fine discovering I was wrong and there is more to learn. The journey of discovery is interesting, if challenging at times.

Photo by Jack Bulmer on


Written for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Today’s letter is K.

4 thoughts on “Knowledge

  1. I am enjoying learning about birds and plants in the Sonoran Desert, my new home. It’s very different from the desert I left in Palm Springs, CA. I’ve ordered an AI bird feeder which will record and identify the birds for you. It is a project my son’s company is involved with bringing to the public through a Kickstarter campaign.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really love that “book” — nature. Now at my refuge the people have stopped coming (“nothing to see any more”) which is ok with me, so I get to watch and listen to all the other birds. Luckily, it’s a wildlife refuge with some interpretive signs, kind of a wilderness zoo in its way. Right now it’s the season of Canadian geese, various ducks, red-winged blackbirds, tree swallows, meadowlarks. Soon the really gorgeous yellow-headed blackbird will appear. I guess he waits for warmer temps and bigger bugs to eat.


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