Sigund F. Olson wrote in Reflections from the North Country: “If I knew all there is to know about a golden arctic poppy growing on a rocky ledge in the Far North, I would know the whole story of evolution and creation.” He could have substituted the kinglet for the poppy. Kinglets are drab-colored birds with a flaming red, yellow, or orange crest. When excited, kinglets can suddenly flash their crest out of their olive-colored head feathers. They are one of the most common yet least-known forest birds living in the Northern Hemisphere. When I see a kinglet hopping through a densely branched spruce tree covered with pillows of snow, I often imagine myself in its place, wondering how it experiences the world. Having a circumference of about the size of a walnut, the rate of heat flow from the body is increaseover a hundredfold from what it is in my human state. The world is suddenly that much colder, and a fate of freezing to death in the northern winter becomes an almost nightly possibility. However, the wonder and the marvel of how kinglets survive cannot be understood or appreciated except when viewed through the window of the adaptations found in the numerous other animals that share its winter world. It is their special means of cpoing that form context and continuity for the myster of how kinglets survive subzero temperatures. Each species opens, as Edword O. Wilson has said (in The Future of Life), “the gate to the paradisiacal world” that is a “wellspring of hope.” I agree: If kinglets can do it, than anything seems possible.
– Bernd Heinrich, Winter World
The book is also beautifully illustrated by the author, who has a lifetime of attachment to his subjects, so mine here is a fairly poor shadow compared. But I thought I’d give the bird-in-winter thing a shot. And for now, I’m hanging up this exercise, to work on other projects, the results of which I’ll also be posting here on a weekly basis, should anyone stumble upon it.