Grains of Change
A harrier sweeps by and the birds fly up, their cinnamon underwings flashing. They circle the field, lazily it seems, then settle again. More birds appear: song sparrows, tree swallows, white-crowned sparrows, meadowlarks, a dozen great egrets, and a big flock of blackbirds. We watch for a half-hour as the curlews roam the wet pasture. Then the clouds close like a curtain and the rain begins again. Suddenly I realize the rainfall I’ve been cursing all week is adding water to the rice fields—those “surrogate wetlands”—artificial and less picturesque perhaps than the originals but just as important to the future of the long-billed curlew and many other species that depend on them.