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October 18, 2013

Creatures of nature are truly amazing


I know I have barn swallows that come back to my old dairy barn and raise their babies in the same mud nests year after year. I’ve never kept track to see if it happens on the same day. I also have no way of knowing, but I assume that many of these birds were born and raised right here and return to raise the next generation just as the birds before them. They fly north after wintering where it’s warm and somehow find that same old wooden structure outside West Oneonta.

When I’m on my hill in the summer, I watch the red-winged blackbirds fly out over the meadow and drop down into the deep grass to tend their nest and feed their youngsters. Gee, every blade of grass looks the same in a 30-acre meadow, but they always seem to find the right nest.

How can the monarch butterfly migrate to Mexico during the winter and land in the exact same tree?

How do salmon return to the same stream they were born in after spending three years out in the ocean or in one of the Great Lakes?

Gosh, so many questions with so few answers.

And lastly, have you ever taken time to watch a flock of birds or a big school of fish moving together in a tight group? When one turns, all the rest follow. Back-and-forth, up-and-down, it doesn’t matter. It’s like they are all connected. It’s so fluid and so amazing. It seems perfectly choreographed. They never seem to miss a beat, so to speak.

Certainly, nature is amazing. There are so many interesting things and unanswered questions. These are simple creatures compared to man and yet they seem to have it all figured out.

What ever happened to us?

Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at

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