A Limited Edition Print
by artist Robert Bateman
12" x 7" 950 s/n
"Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet!" is the loud, ringing song that makes my heart leap. It is leaping now, a little bit, as I write this, thousands of miles away from prothonotary territory. This is because it brings me back to some of the most joyous times of my life...birding with friends along the north shore of Lake Erie in the middle of May. This is the time of peak spring migration when the twigs and branches seem to be literally dripping with birds. Sights and sounds and the smell of blossoms almost overwhelm the senses. To add urgency to the action, the aim is to identify as many different kinds of birds as possible in the day or weekend. This means intense tuning in to every twitch and twitter. In short, there is a very strong sense of being fully alive...a sense of being completely present in the here and now.
As a Canadian and a naturalist, I have always had a particular fascination with our "southern climes." These are little patches of the Carolinian zone that just make it up into southern Ontario. Tree species such as cucumber magnolia, tulip tree, sassafras and sweet gum are found nowhere else in Canada. There are a few special birds as well, the tufted titmouse and Carolina wren. But the little bird that carries the most weight with me is the prothonotary warbler. Perhaps it is the wet woods habitat or maybe rich, egg yellow color. It could be the nostalgia of those birding jaunts in Canada's "deep south" that makes my heart leap when I hear the "sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet" song. - Robert Bateman
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