I was lost in thought as I stared at the dark-colored bird before me. Typically, a person thinking of a bird pictures the smaller more elegant creatures that decorate greeting cards and also poems. The tricolored heron sifting through the shallow water was a bit less dainty and also look a bit more like something from the Mesozoic Era. These herons are medium-sized, with a long, dagger-like beak. Their necks are long and also slender, curving up to their small heads. These ancient looking birds are worthy of just as much attention as their smaller cousins. 

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Above all, there’s something inherently grounding about observing nature. Taking the time to step away from your point of view has some merit to it. We’re often so caught up in what we think is the norm and try our hardest to pursue and maintain it. It is important to be able to step away from that idea and also understand that normalcy is not universal. As Charles Addams famously quoted, “Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.” Similarly, what can be peculiar or impossible to humans, is business as usual to other members of the animal kingdom.


People typically have this perceived notion that humans are evolutionarily superior to all other fauna. After all, the bible states “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). This undoubtedly led to mankind feeling like the pinnacle of evolution and overall the standard that all other animals should be compared to. However, anyone who has ever studied biology or zoology knows that this can be far from the truth. Humans may have gotten lucky to get as advanced as we did, but the rest of the animal kingdom is doing just as well as can be seen in our wildlife and bird pictures.

Many animals find ways to navigate the problems in their lives without using hands or walking upright. Many farther exceed the capabilities of man. For example, the octopus is an adept problem solver capable of unscrewing jars from within and even camouflaging with supernatural accuracy. The raven, an animal with a significantly smaller brain is capable of making tools with just its beak and mimicking human speech. Humans, may not find their ways of solving problems normal but who really is to say what is.


As I was waiting for the tricolored heron to step into a pose for me to capture, I started to admire it. Here was a seemingly simple creature that I wanted to photograph for bird wall art. One that didn’t use elaborate tools, one that didn’t have a complex language, and also one that lacked the dexterity of opposable thumbs. Yet, this heron was more than capable of reaching things and carrying out tasks. I was amazed by how effortlessly she moved. She preened herself through twists and also turns that no human with a spine could mimic. There was no part of her body that she couldn’t reach. She was more than comfortable in her feathery body, unbothered about what I thought.

It dawned on me that I was observing and analyzing this animal with so much scrutiny. My intentions for this trip had been to simply capture bird pictures and also enjoy being in nature. Yet, I got so enamored by the adaptations of this bird. An allegedly simpler creature, who would no doubt struggle in the human world, but on its own was thriving. As the saying goes, the lion doesn’t concern itself with the opinions of sheep. Here, the tricolored heron did not concern itself with the opinions of a human, and I also didn’t blame her. No bird pictures itself as another animal, so why should we picture ourselves as another person?


This tricolored heron was a perfect metaphor for the kind of attitude that everyone should embrace. We only get one life, and it would also be a terrible shame to waste it worrying about what others thought. Better yet to embrace who you are and how you are, than compare yourself to those around you. It would be rather foolish of the heron to look at me and wonder why God hadn’t blessed it with thumbs. Similarly, it would be foolish of me to worry about why I wasn’t taller, or faster, or smarter than my fellow humans.

I eventually shook myself out of my head. I may have just had an epiphany but my subject had taken the perfect pose to photograph for my bird wall art. And that is the photograph you see here.


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