Photo credit: Greg Lavaty, Texas Target Birds

A Sense of Wonder

There’s a cold front coming in. Clouds are gathering and scudding across a leaden sky. Bare, tangled branches create intricate patterns above me, and I listen. 

Bringing my binoculars to my eyes, I see movement. A flock of American robins are feasting feverishly on hackberries—they must know that rain is coming, and I can sense it too. Alighting on bare branches they continue to eat. It will be a cold, wet night for them.

Suddenly, my eyes are drawn to another small bird, nervously flitting from branch to branch. A tiny ruby-crowned kinglet. A gem in this winter landscape, he’s systematically working the tree trunk for spiders, and other insects. As I watch, awed by his focus and intensity, a sudden, harsh gust of wind knocks over some metal gardening equipment with a resounding clatter. Still watching as the wind blows, this amazing little bird doesn’t miss a beat. Even though he could easily sit in the palm of your hand and weighs less than a paperclip, he isn’t dislodged. Far from it, he continues on with his intense search for food, braced against the tree trunk, feathers ruffled and jostled by the wind. His tenacity astonishes me, and I am filled with wonder.

Watching quietly, I realize this sense of wonder is something I rarely experience in my haste to check off a never-ending list of daily chores. Yet this feeling connects me to the natural world in a very fundamental and ancient way, and is the driving force behind the work we do as interpreters to craft engaging interpretive signage for visitors to enjoy. 

Originally from England, Amanda Hughes-Horan has an M.S. in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University where she studied burrowing owls. She’s an avid cross-country skier and kayaker, worked for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for many years, and is the Owner and Principal of Interpretive Insights.

Amanda Hughes-Horan

Principal, Interpretive Insights

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