An Unusual Memorial Day (By Doug Fincher)

March 21, 2017 - I arose at dawn this Memorial Day to drive to the Sand Hills near Center, Texas to photograph painted buntings. The buntings arrived a month ago from their wintering grounds in Central America and I’ve been able to photograph the same three male birds that I photographed last year. I named them Spot, Yellow Boy and Slim.  They are easily identifiable …Yellow Boy has a yellow streak on his breast, Spot has an unusual spot on his neck and Slim has a long body and dark colors.

As I turned off Highway 96 onto a dirt road, a tall elderly man stumbled along the road picking up trash (It was barely daylight).  I wanted to take his picture but was afraid of disturbing him.  I continued to “The Bird Road” where I photograph the buntings and parked in my usual place. After a few moments, I realized something was wrong.  This road which normally is bursting with the songs of birds was silent for a full hour today. After dozing off to sleep I awoke to find a deer standing in front of the truck.

Suddenly a noisy crow lit on a dead pine and two young rabbits appeared on the road behind me running and jumping high into the air. Swallows lined up on a barbed wire fence and a host of birds started crisscrossing the road in their usual fashion. A frog began croaking, “It’s about to rain.” Within thirty minutes, I had photographed Spot, Yellow Boy and Slim. And as I drove from the rainy Bird Road, the air was filled with the sounds of happy birds. I will always wonder why they were silent for that hour today.

Maybe they knew it was Memorial Day, too.