It was toward the end of the day, and the bird was taunting me.
Earlier, a large group of friends of the family had come to this lovely mountain retreat to exchange New Year’s greetings and to bird-watch. They were hoping for all manner of beautiful tropical birds; the host had made sure the feeders were well stocked with fruits and seeds.
The only one who showed up was a common mountain bird, a Blue-crowned Motmot, which in Colombian Spanish is called a Soledad –meaning “loneliness.” It appeared for only a few minutes before it took off, its impossibly-shaped clock pendulum tail swishing behind it. The birdwatchers were doubly disappointed: not only did just the one bird show, but it was not even worth getting excited about.I missed nine-tenths of any bird, having just stepped outside in time to see that tail swoosh by. A bird called loneliness, and I missed it. I was excited and disappointed.But the bird wanted to be seen.
It waited until just after sunset, when the last bits of that stubborn tropical sun were still tangled in the branches of the trees. And then Loneliness started to hoot softly, pecking at some fruit.
I chased it from tree to tree, nearly taking a dive down the steep mountain. Another name for the bird is Barranquero–something along the lines of “ravine bird.”
I chased loneliness and finally, for a few seconds, it stared back at me in all its mango-pecking majesty. And just as quickly as it posed, it flew away, shiny wings batting softly at the crisp mountain air.
Hello loneliness; goodbye loneliness. You are a wonderful bird.