I can view the activities of a flock of sparrows, like I did this morning, without magnifying an individual bird. In fact, I literally can’t see what the flock is doing if I’m trying, often unsuccessfully, to focus in on one bird. It’s like the reverse of old saw: “He can’t see the forest for the trees.” Sometime I want to view the activities of an entire flock of birds, the entire forest of them.
White-throated sparrows and house sparrows were flocked up this morning as I walked a path through a huge field of tall grasses on a brilliant sun-shiny day. The birds were fluttering here and there along the path pecking at the seed which was deposited along the path by the wind. I think the birds cannot feed within the thick tall grass of this remnant of Illinois prairie which spreads out on both sides of the path.
As I approached, the flock took refuge close-by in scrub brush growing here and there along the path but when they saw I was no danger to them, they returned to the path to feed. They can still find cover since autumn is just beginning and the trees and brush are still lush and verdant.
I didn’t need my binoculars at all. I simply took in the entire scene of passerines feasting on seeds here in early autumn. This kind of flock behavior has developed over eons. The birds don’t fight within their species and they don’t compete across species lines. They have learned to cooperate.
Maybe, we humans could learn something from inter-species flocking. We could at least learn to tolerate one another’s presence.