Terry Lake and Birds of All Sizes

Prebirding negotiation about who should wear the gardner’s hat.


Before Brian left for Minneapolis and his evil corporate enterprising at General Mills, his mom (Carol) and his aunt took us out to Terry Lake—a mile and a half long, shallow reservoir built in 1885—located in Northern Fort Collins to get a look at some animals. I am not an ornithologist, but I do believe these animals are of the type that the lay community refers to as “birds”. To be more specific, we saw both “big” birds and “small” birds.




Carol is a biology teacher at Rocky Mountain High School (also the source of my vast bird knowledge as evidenced above), and one of her fellow science teachers owns a house on Terry Lake. He took us out on canoes, across the lake, to an outcropping of Great Blue Heron nests, Canadian geese, and Western Grebes.

Brian in his ultra-sleek canoe.

There were two canoes, and while the one Brian sat in looked more fun and faster, I wanted to get some pictures, and so opted for the bigger, slower, more stable of the two canoes. The water we paddled in, near the middle of the lake was probably only about 15 feet deep, so it was decided that I, in my very stable canoe, would wear a lifevest and Brian would chance a swim home if he fell in. I think we came to this decision by posing who, if consumed by the frightening waters of Terry Lake, would create less of a drag on the national psyche. Those who know me know that I am QUITE tall and perhaps there is something of intrinsic value in having tall people around … In any case, I was resolved not to die in a shallow lake, because while not that shallow, the connotation is the same of an adult that drowns in two feet of water. The first thought in everyone’s head is: Why didn’t he just stand up?

I am not sure about the Great Blue Heron designation, but I am sure that whatever this flying mammal’s species is (it is a mammal, right?), it was the sole inspiration for Doctor Seuss’s Star Bellied Sneetch. For disbelievers out there, I submit the following picture and dare you to defy the similarity.


Carol mentioned she is confident that even if someone doesn’t really care about birds, they would still love to watch these herons (or whatever they were—my parenthetical). I think this kinda betrays her not getting the “doesn’t really care” part of the sentence. I mean I don’t really care about birds. I understand Rachel Carson telling me that they are the barometer of the health of an ecosystem and I am sure my life would be less … noisy? … without the squawking and chirping, but I really don’t care about birds. I understand this is a character flaw on my part and am comfortable with that. I DO care about paddling and rowing, I quite enjoy both. And getting out on the lake was just an awesome experience. It was so bright and cool and made me very aware of how much I will miss Fort Collins.

Someone recently asked me what there is to do in Fort Collins—like shopping-wise or how many cinemas we have. We have a lot of restaurants and a few movie theaters, and so on, but the question jolted me. What do we do? We walk around. When you have a beautiful, healthy environment, that is what you do, you enjoy it. It’s an activity unto itself.


3 responses to “Terry Lake and Birds of All Sizes

  1. This reminds of the incident that happened between my brother and my sister. My brother loves birds while my sister who is better known as Miss Who Cares doesn’t care about anything related to pets. One day my brother was showing us his recent pet – a bird with multi-colored wings. My sister came in from school after several minutes. She just walked into the room, chin up, and accidentally stepped on the bird. Splat! The bird died on the spot. And you know what happens next. World War IV!!!

  2. That’s terrrible! My girlfriend is enrolling in the Tufts masters program in animals and public policy, so I got in trouble the other day when she posited the following: save an animal from at-length suffering and death, or else save a human from direct death. I’m sure we would have had a long fight about why hypotheticals are ridiculous and what kind of suffering is involved with making your boyfriend answer hypotheticals, but just then a train rolled past and blew its horn so loud that neither of us could hear anything for a few minutes. Saved by the “does it really need to be THAT loud” train horn, I guess.

  3. Sam,
    Birds are not mammals. Being a mammal requires fur, live birth, nursing…
    We will miss you and your unique view of life around the office.

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