It is a perfect desert morning when a story jumps out of the sunshine.
I sat in the dirt sunburned and barefoot deliberating the next move at Rancho Scorpion. Rare is a visitor, so a sharp ‘Peep!’ took my ear. A 7’’ metallic green-black bird with a short, pointed bill I’d never met walked under my legs for skinny shade. It pecked three of my toenails in quick succession. This, the brown-headed Cowbird, is a winter tourist who draws a fine line between opportunity and thievery. She finds a host nest and removes one egg from the clutch. She deposits a single egg of her own and leaves. The hatchling is lager than the others and starves them out. The bird today hiked from under me to my white Ford, jumped to the hood, and pecked the windshield clean of dead bugs.
At the same time, a 6’’ Whiptail lizard came to my left leg and peered up. Seeing no danger, he hopped onto my left foot like a lookout. It took the first fly off the big toe in a blink. He launched off a-Keeley’s tendon for a second mid-air catch. After a third acrobatic fly, his leathery skin turned a satisfied chocolate brown, he sunned on my shin, and I thought no more. The message was clear.
I drove to town for a meal and shower and a moral for you: Need breeds opportunists and miracles.