Sometimes, like this time, I start
reading Orion from the back of the
magazine forward. Brian Doyle’s Coda
piece “Their Irrepressible Innocence”
(November/December 2016) reminded
me immediately why I
cannot do without Orion
magazine, especially now.
As an educator and
birder, I deeply appreciate the message in Christopher Norment’s article
“A Case for Wonder” (
November/December 2016). I agree with
Norment that mother birds will not likely
abandon their young if touched by a human. However, there are other potential
dangers to drawing too much attention to
a nest. While attending a workshop one
spring, a wren’s nest that was found on
the side of a shed drew the attention of
many attendees. Nearby a crow became
curious about the human focus on the
shed. I cannot say for sure if the crow
picked up on what the people were looking at or if other cues helped, like the distress of the mother bird trying to distract
attention. But after a few hours of various
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people stopping by to look at the nest, the
crow swooped in to grab the nestling.
Maintaining the secrecy of nest location
is the reason some birds build multiple
nests and only use one. Songbirds are
a food source for many
nest robbers, especially
clever corvids like the
crow and jay.
I share the enthusiasm
Marcia Weber expresses in
her piece “Jail Birds” (
As a former New Yorker
finishing my residence on this planet in
Helsinki, Finland, with a meager grasp of
the local languages, I too delight in these
modern-day dinosaurs. Crows, magpies,
and chickadees are most common here,
but seagulls, laughing gulls, and the occasional hawk also enliven the scene. In
the summer, ducks and a swan or two can
be spotted, as well. Perhaps there is a New
Yorker or two among them.
Reading Marcia Weber’s “Jail Birds”
(November/December 2016) reminded
me how going through a rough patch
in life can actually remind us of the
brighter things, the little things, of-
ten, that make life worth living. I hope
your birdwatching becomes a lifelong
passion, Marcia, and a reminder of the
beauty in the world.
Saint Michaels, Maryland
Lauren Markham’s “Our School” (
November/December 2016) was such a
powerful read — one of the most insightful and luminous articles I have read
about education in years. As an educator
in the midst of what some call “chaos”
or “a failed system,” I find comfort and
inspiration from the work being done in
these schools in Alaska and am happy to
see it being reflected upon and shared
I am moved by Lauren Markham’s article “Our School” (November/December
2016). Quyanaq, Lauren, for coming to
see firsthand the e=orts of our people and
using the power of narrative to share what
is and what can be.
JANA PAUSAURAQ HARCHAREK