Excerpt from Freedom: A Novel
It was the season of migration, of flight and song and sex. Down in the neotropics, where diversity was as great as anywhere on earth, a few hundred bird species grew restless and left behind the several thousand other species, many of them close taxonomic relatives, that were content to stay put and crowdedly coexist and reproduce at their tropical leisure. Among the hundreds of South American tanager species, exactly four took off for the United States, risking the disasters of travel for the bounty of things to eat and places to nest in temperate woods in summer. Cerulean warblers winged their way up along the coasts of Mexico and Texas and fanned into the hardwoods of Appalachia and the Ozarks. Ruby-throated hummingbirds fattened themselves on the flowers of Veracruz and flew eight hundred miles across the Gulf, burning up half their body weight, and landed in Galveston to catch their breath. Terns came up from one subarctic to the other, swifts took airborne naps and never landed, song-filled thrushes waited for a southern wind and then flew nonstop for twelve hours, traversing whole states in a night. High-rises and power lines and wind turbines and cellphone towers and road traffic mowed down millions of migrants, but millions more made it through, many of them returning to the very same tree they'd nested in the year before, the same ridgeline or wetland they'd been fledged on, and there, if they were male, began to sing. Each year, they arrived to find more of their former homes paved over for parking lots or highways, or logged over for pallet wood, or developed into subdivisions, or stripped bare for oil drilling or coal mining, or fragmented for shopping centers, or plowed under for ethanol production, or miscellaneously denatured for ski runs and bike trails and golf courses. Migrants exhausted by their five-thousand-mile journey competed with earlier arrivals for the remaining scraps of territory; they searched in vain for a mate, they gave up on nesting and subsisted without breeding, they were killed for sport by free-roaming cats. But the United States was still a rich and relatively young country, and pockets full of bird life could still be found if you went looking.
Jonathan (2010-08-31). Freedom: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club) (pp.
485-486). Macmillan. Oprah's Book Club) (pp. 485-486). Macmillan. Kindle