The Appearance of the Spoonbill

Can a thought that moves my hand
and writes a word, birth an occurrence?
Sounds like a mystical Jungian event,
but sometimes, who denies there are
things that happen where strange
coincidence has appeared?
What Jung calls synchronicity.

Of all those years I’ve lived on, and
roamed around those 196 acres
surrounding Anhinga Marsh,
I’ve seen many kinds of waterbirds,
some migratory—the handsome
Tri-colored whistler ducks, or
the parrot-like kingfishers.

But most are stay-all-seasoners like
the sandhill cranes or anhingas,
who take the highest branches
in the bald cypress trees—they
bully the smaller waterbirds to stay
down in the sweet bays or the wax
myrtles, close to the lily pads and mud.

Out hiking one late afternoon on
April 5, 2020, I noted down the waterbirds
in order of frequency I saw among the cat-
cattails and the lily pads or those I saw flying
around my end of marshy point, where
I kept my camper tent under slash pines,
live oaks, and sabal palms. I noted these:

Sandhill Cranes, Anhingas, Purple gallinule,
Red-winged blackbirds, Great blue herons,
Ibis, Turkey vultures, Little blue herons, Cattle
egrets, Mallards, , Common loon, Osprey,
Whistler ducks, Limpkin, Wood duck,
Bald eagle, Kingfisher, and others like
whippoorwills never seen but often heard.

But a waterbird I’d never seen,    a bird
I admired much, was a Roseate Spoonbill.  
I’d seen them in aviary sanctuaries
on islands in the Florida keys or over
on the Atlantic side or the Gulf Coast.
I liked their rose and brilliant pink
colors, which turned to scarlet under sun.

The more shrimp or mussels they ate,
It’s said, the pinker the feathers glow,
and they had a strange rounding beak,
as if their lips had been trained by a plate,
unlike most waterbirds with sharp beaks.
so I wrote a list poem and added I’d seen
roseate spoonbills on Anhinga marsh.

After all, roseate spoonbills were often found
on the coast, where the salty shrimp lived,
not here in the marshes of Central Florida. But
no, it wasn’t just a season or two that I’d never
seen a roseate spoonbill—no, I declare that
in twenty years of bird watching on Anhinga
Marsh—never had I seen a roseate spoonbill!
But I wrote on my list that I had.

The next day—was April 6, 2020
I was hiking around the marsh
for some sunrise exercise—just me
and my Portuguese water dog, Bennie,
when I heard the beat of wings above.
I assumed it was another sandhill crane,
which there are many flying around.

And yet the rhythm of the wings
was rather fast, so I glanced up to see—
flying from west to east—a roseate
spoonbill sailing over me! I had to
rub my eyes and peer upstairs again.
Stood in shock until Bennie wagged
against my leg, so we continued on.

Now I leave it to anyone to consider
my point of speculation. Was it that
I’d never seen a roseate spoonbill
In my 20 years of birdwatching on
Anhinga marsh? Though one may
have flown by when I was sleeping
in my tent—or was it that:

April 6 was the first time a roseate
spoonbill had ever flown across Anhinga
Marsh? This question begs an answer
from Jung, who speculated on such things—
And how he might have consulted with me
had I told him of this strange experience:
Seeing a spoonbill fly over Anhinga marsh.

The question comes in the end to this: Did
the list of waterbirds I made on April 5, draw
the egg that hatched the bird—the roseate
spoonbill that flew over me on April 6?
I leave it to Hamlet to remind: “There are
more things in heaven and earth than dreamt
in the philosophy of human minds!”

-R Venrick

R Venrick writes and publishes nature poems; owns and manages a 196 nature and marsh preserve in central Florida, where waterbirds and song birds are an everyday event.

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