Looks can be deceiving. Things are not always as they appear. One can not judge a book by its cover. All three of these statements are age-old theories on the observance of life. Take this squadron of Royal (orange billed) & Sandwich (black billed) Tern for an example. Are they just out for a whimsical late morning fly-by? It would seem they practice some fairly close proximity precision aerobatics. Come to think of it, there’s even a measure of cross-species cooperation going on here. But maybe.., they are just organized, ruthless hunters.
Along Florida’s west Gulf Coast, these elegant seabirds make the beach home for much of the year. We witness their gatherings at mid-day in large colonies along the sandy shoreline, always facing the seabreeze head-on, socializing, preening their plumage to be recognized and admired by the other sex, and generally intertaining beachgoing humans. A carefree existance. Then, suddenly and without warning they launch into the air to take a hunting run up and down the gentle lines of surf, keen eyes ready to push the bird into a tail-spin dive when their favorite bait-fish makes the mistake of becoming visible from above. It’s over in a fraction of a second. Wet, but not soaked, the Tern kicks it’s wings into high-gear and lifts off the blue surface, minnow in beak, to rejoin the formation or return to roost on the sand. A cycle unbroken –– repeated countless times during the light of day. Precision. Every day.
So, is this a carefree lifestyle? So it seems at a glance. But when we look closer, this really is work. Survival. Struggle. Necessity. Nature at work. It is all they know how to do. But while in flight, their life seems serene, comforting, carefree. It’s a deception.
Maybe then, when we observe others in our own tiny little personal world, and we say to ourselves, “…boy I sure wish my life was as carefree as so-in-so’s is…” –– we should think twice. There’s a damn good chance we shouldn’t be judging that book by its cover…