Please save me from one more picture of the sunset over the Moodna Creek or trumpeter swans on Washington Lake. This Sierra Club Calendar approach to nature is just a way to manage and control feeling about nature. Show me that fluorescent toxic algae bloom on the Wallkill, seagulls and landfills, birds killed by the thousands at the regional airports. By having these “photo of the day, week, month” arrangements in newspapers and local TV news programs, we are losing touch with the brisk, feral quality of the natural world. These static captured shots of nature sedate us. A good photo enlivens and makes us curious.

Lots of bird activity this time of year and it’s likely you too may find a baby bird on the ground. What to do?

I found this nestling - a baby bird without feathers. It had fallen from a nest built in the track of my sliding barn door or maybe it was pulled out by predator birds that often poke around there. Local crows, jays, woodpeckers all have a taste for baby birds.

Had it not been dead, I would have been faced with that human thing: “Oh dear, a baby bird!” If it was a feathery “fledgling” or “brancher” I would have been tempted to put it back in the nest. Wrong. It was starting that natural and dangerous progression towards its independence, literally trying out its wings. Its parents still keep an eye on it and still bring it food. Yes, there’s the danger from cats, dogs and children. Maybe I would have just moved it under a bush where the parent birds could still hear it. (Birds have a poor sense of smell).

Even had the nestling been alive, the nest was too inaccessible for me to reach and such a bird needs feeding every 15 minutes or so from sunrise to ten p.m.! That’s currently above my pay grade. I was reminded of the raw survival quality of the natural world. I found some dark beauty in that. I took the picture and in a half-hour the bird was gone. There are a lot of squirrels and chipmunks waiting for such tasty beauty themselves.

Daniel Mack