Yesterday was the annual Medford Christmas Bird Count. Our team worked Area D within the standard 15 mile-diameter count circle. This area includes southeast Medford, a lot of housing, a shopping center, and open space that has survived development. The Roxy Ann Vineyards are in our territory. It also includes Roxy Ann, the hill, over 3000′ high and preserved in Prescott Park. Plus there’s considerable pear orchard, vineyard and farm land, and expanses of planned housing developments that are now largely weeds and forgotten roads. Mostly the abandoned development parcels are now owned by some bank trying to unload unwanted real estate. The open habitat is about half grassland or pasture, the other half mostly oak/madrone/Ponderosa forest on the hillsides. There are also patches of dense oak/ceanothus scrub on the driest slopes. Every year the count has a different theme. One year it was Cedar Waxwings as they gathered in hundreds wherever madrone berries were found. Another year it was snow as we trudged through several inches of fresh snow on Roxy Ann. This year was mild and sunny and dry. But the word of the 2011 Medford count for our team: BLUEBIRD.
Here is the poem by the American 20th Century writer, George J. Carroll, that first used the phrase “bluebird of happiness:”
“And in the valley beneath the mountains of my youth, lies the river of my tears. As it wends its way to the ocean of my dreams, so long ago they have gone. And yet, if I were but to think anew, would these dreams evaporate in my mind and become the morning dew upon a supple rose whose beauty is enhanced with these glistening drops, as the sun of life peeks o’er the mountains when youth was full. Then I must not supply this endless fountain that creates the river of my tears but look beyond those mountains where the bluebird of happiness flies.”