Editor’s Letter | Paying Attention

I didn’t realize it right away, but my world has been full of notable bird sightings lately. It all started with a visit to my parents’ house in the foothills on Mother’s Day. Their bird feeder routinely attracts woodpeckers and the ubiquitous Steller’s jays, but that day we also got to see the less-common evening grosbeak, a strikingly bright yellow and black bird. Later in the afternoon we noticed that a pair of mountain bluebirds seemed to be taking up residence in one of the carefully placed bluebird houses, and we heard the pretty song of a wren as he explored another birdhouse nearby.

A week later, during a trip to Michigan, it was the cardinals that first caught my attention. They’ve always been some of my favorite birds, but unfortunately we don’t see them in Colorado—so it was a real treat to wake up to their singing outside my window every morning. I also spotted an oriole for the first time, its bright orange breast unmistakable even though it was high above in the tree branches.

Back home in Colorado, the bird encounters continued: On a memorable weekday morning, one of the hawks that I often see in the distance from my third-floor office window spent hours cruising so close to the building that I got a terrifically detailed look at its body. And for the past several days, the crow that built a nest in the tall trees behind my house has been flying back and forth outside my bedroom window, all the while making his distinctive, raspy “caw! caw! caw!” call.

Needless to say, all of these sightings have gotten my attention (especially the noisy crow, who likes to announce his presence just before my alarm clock rings each morning). Now I’m taking more notice of the birdsong I hear around my neighborhood; tonight a house finch was singing from the top of an aspen tree as I pulled into my driveway. And I’m more alert to other creatures, too, like the innumerable bunnies that crouch in the grass like round rocks during the early morning and evening hours.

One of the wonderful things about fine art is that it can help us become more attuned to the natural world around us, whether that world is suburban (like mine), urban, or rural. Living with a compelling artwork, such as Kevin Box’s RISING CRANES, reminds us to appreciate the triumphant qualities of birds in flight, just as examining a painting can encourage us to admire the wonder of light or color. The world is a breathtaking place, if only we’ll take time to notice. Art helps make that possible.

Kristin Hoerth