A couple of days ago we dropped in on Jim Stevenson in Galveston, Texas. Jim’s place is a refuge from the gluttonous development that is devouring much of Galveston Island. A refuge for Jim, the birds he loves as well as human visitors.
We hadn’t seen Jim since December, when he kindly lent us his place while he was away visiting family in Florida. This time, Jim looked tired, worn a little ragged by the rush of keeping up with spring migration. If I looked closely, I might have seen red rims around his eyes. It’s a common theme amongst birders. Bob Duncan from Florida had summed it up when we’d stayed with him and his wife Lucy in early April. Bob had recently been invited to a wedding and said, “I can’t go to a wedding during spring migration!”
Jim knows a lot about birds. He knows a lot about bird migration. Malkolm peppered him with questions about where to find birds, and Jim answered patiently. When Malkolm asked about Gull-billed Terns, he led him up to his “sky deck” and pointed one out. When they got back downstairs, Jim plopped down on a couch while Malkolm pointed his camera lens outside.
“There’s a Yellow Warbler,” said Malkolm, “and a Red-eyed Vireo.”
“Malkolm, you seem to know quite a lot about birds,” said Jim. “Can you tell whether that vireo is exhausted from crossing the Gulf?”
Malkolm thought for a minute. “No.”
“At least I’ll be able to teach you something,” said Jim. “Sure it is. It just took the red-eye on the Yucatan Express!”