Flying flea circus

The scissortail flycatchers have returned, and the corner of Custer and Plano Parkway is a three-ring aerial acrobatic spectacle. In this weird, wonderful week of birds, the scissortails are the performing artists. I wonder if my favorite choreographer, Bruce Wood, was inspired by these migrating dancers in their dramatic grey and rose feathered costumes.

Scissortail flycatchers led my list of reasons to love living in Oklahoma. With my youngest in his baby carseat, I drove the minivan around the scruffy Edmond area. The baby Woolly Mammoth got as excited spotting scissortails as I did, or maybe more, since he wasn't preoccupied with driving safely. This was the first indication that he was going to be the Nature Boy of the three. The youngest child can have it rough staking out his territory of expertise in a landscape dominated by big brothers. Steven showed pretty early that he would appreciate beauty in nature and do a few artistic aerial dances of his own.

So appropriate that scissortails are the Oklahoma state bird. The state's history and that of aviation are closely entwined. The state of Wiley Post, Will Rogers, barnstormers and wing-walkers, sings out for aerial ballet!

Soon after the birds arrive in the state, the males begin their famous "sky dance," a popular site along roadsides during spring and early summer. After climbing about 100 feet in the air, the male makes a series of V-shaped flights, then plunges down in an erratic zigzag course often somersaulting while uttering a rolling, cackling call. The performance has been described as "an aerial ballet of incomparable grace."

The Woolly Mammoth and I belong to the land, and we like to watch a hawk making lazy circles in the sky. I'm hoping my next trip to Nebraska allows for seeing some bright golden haze on the meadows.

Have a lovely Earth Day tomorrow. All the sounds of the earth are like music!

© 2007 Nancy L. Ruder

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