Sunday, February 24, 2008

Scott's Oriole in the NY Times

Jonathan Rosen wrote an essay on seeing the Scott's Oriole in Union Square:

Alongside my excitement, I felt a qualm of embarrassment as I exited the busy subway with my binoculars. It was like taking a taxi to hunt big game: “Let me off near the wildebeest, driver.” In Central Park, I can at least conjure the illusion of wildness if I focus on the trees. But when your marker is a metal statue of a man in a loincloth, standing on what is essentially a traffic island, you cannot pretend you are in the middle of nature.

Then again, that’s the point of bird-watching. “Nature” isn’t necessarily elsewhere. It is the person holding the binoculars, as much as the bird in the tree, and it is the intersection of these two creatures, with technology bringing us closer than we have ever been to the very thing technology has driven from our midst. And, anyway, there are still wild elements in the center of a city. The morning I arrived, the bird had made itself scarce, perhaps because a red-tailed hawk, a Cooper’s hawk and a kestrel were all patrolling the park.