Thursday, October 3, 2013

Renaming Barker Meadow – Why Ned Should Declare the Magpie our Town Bird

Location: Nederland, CO 80466, USA
One of the signs in Nederland indicating Barker Meadow
Here is an opportunity for a pleasant diversion from the serious issues related to the Boulder Flood.

Our Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Advisory Board (PROSAB) had issued a survey for renaming the park area created by building our Waste Water Treatment Facility and decommissioning the sewage lagoon by the Barker Reservoir. Here is a link to the form.

The original deadline for suggestions had been extended and we did receive some feedback. Those suggestions were compiled into a poll and the date for turning in that survey at Town Hall was set before the Boulder Flood Storm occurred. Obviously we did not receive many survey responses.

Therefore we have extended the time to respond once again. (This process seems to be determined to take a back seat to more important issues.) So please take a minute, and give us your thoughts, if nothing more than to take a break from the Boulder Flood Recovery. Here is a link to the form.

Taunted by this magpie in my backyard.
As I sat on my back porch filling out my own survey, I was being distracted by a magpie, which began mimicking the hens in my neighbor's backyard, like a mocking bird. 

I was making lunch and thinking about the history of how Hannah Barker had refused to sell the Barker Meadow until the Central Colorado Power Company used eminent domain to obtain the land for the Barker Meadow Reservoir. It's really an interesting story of our town's history. Still, this magpie seemed to be taunting me from a perch. A couple of other magpies joined in, then they swooped down and stole some dog food from a bowl I had outside.

Magpies are quite prolific in Nederland. I went inside to get a camera to take their picture, but they flew off as though they knew what I was doing. I went back to completing the survey. I was thinking about how we already have giant signs indicating where the Barker Meadow is. I thought about all of the systems, and websites like Google Earth, that would have to be changed if we renamed the park.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.
Earlier, the magpies were playing a game with me, sort of like hide and seek, as I went in and out of the house with my lunch. It felt more like I was in The Raven poem by Edgar Allen Poe. As it turns out, Magpies are in the Corvid family of birds including the crow and raven, so they have a reputation for being clever and mischievous. The Magpie was also misunderstood by early Christians who had said it came from the devil.

I went back to my lunch and survey, and began wondering why we humans feel the need to keep renaming everything. Maybe, it's because humans are so focused on language. For a while, the magpies had circled the back porch by perching on the top of each tree in the area, and began crowing loudly. (Is this magpie language?) When I raised my camera, they flew behind me. When I turned around, they flew to the other side. By this time, I felt like I was a character in Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 film, The Birds.

The Nederland Magpie in flight
I had to go inside to finish the survey. I figured that the Hannah Barker story was important enough to keep the Barker Meadow Park name and that if people visited the Nederland Mining Museum they could learn the history of Barker Meadow as well. I went back outside, saw my empty plate, thought for a moment that I took my sandwich inside, and realized that the magpies had stolen it. - Just like the Barker Meadow had been stolen by the power company.

The Magpie itself has a part of the brain (associated with higher cognitive tasks) that is relatively the same size as only three other animals: humans, dolphins, and chimpanzees. The more I read about this fascinating bird, the more I like it.

Magpies don't migrate, and stay in this area all winter. So, while we are taking surveys and polls, I'm thinking that the Town of Nederland should consider naming the Magpie as our Official Town Bird. Think about it – the Magpie is not a U.S. State Bird of any state, or any country for that matter, so it's available.

On the other hand, maybe this is just a nonsensical diversion from more important matters.

[Here is a Video Valediction] ... And while you are laboring over your survey choices below, what else but listen to a song for the Magpie by Sussex, England DJ, Abraham"Magpie", featuring Rachel Cuming on vocals. [What is a Video Valediction?]
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