What birds flock where

Barbara Curtis contacted one of our board members after this letter was published. She wants us to know that she was not referring to our community in her column.

Loudoun Times-Mirror
July 7, 2005
By David Weintraub, Equality Loudoun, Lovettsville

I found Barbara Curtis’ Close to Home column (June 29) very eloquent in its description of invaders rudely elbowing their way into our lovely county.

Her striking imagery of selfish, bullying starlings pushing the native songbirds out of their way had exactly its intended effect: It made me think of the citizens who have been living their rather ordinary lives here for years or decades, only to have their values, families and very existence challenged by a noisy and arrogant interloper.

I thought of my many friends, gay and straight, who long ago made Loudoun their home, and have been kind enough to educate me about the history of our little part of the world.

I thought of the Quaker communities who settled my part of Loudoun, and put into practice the words “liberty and justice for all.” These kinder and gentler, yet determined citizens defied the pro-slavery south, and helped their fellow human beings to freedom via the Underground Railroad.

My neighbors share the tale of how residents of the village of Taylorstown organized to stop the Army Corps of Engineers from constructing a dam on Catoctin Creek — an eminent domain taking that would have left their homes at the bottom of a water reservoir serving Washington.

I thought of the legendary Miss Anna Hedrick, who demonstrated in an early example of political “street (stream?) theater” that when necessary, we can indeed “change horses in midstream.”

I thought of an acquaintance, a graduate of the Loudoun County public school system, who as a student wrote and produced a play about a young woman’s realization that she is a lesbian. This play was performed in a Loudoun high school without incident or protest a mere 10 years ago. The starlings, it seems, had not yet found us.

In fact, another invasive species comes to mind, with an even more insidious behavior. The Brown-headed Cowbird actually pushes the young of native birds from their nests and lays its own eggs in their place. In this clever adaptation, these birds force the rest of the bird population to raise their young — young that look … Just. Like. Them.

It remains to be seen how our Virginia songbirds will adapt to the latest invaders. Not being of the bird persuasion myself, I can only recommend a human response: Stand your ground, remember that this is your home, and that there is always strength in diversity.

I am confident that Ms. Curtis will be seen as a respectful newcomer to the extent that she listens with an open heart and learns about all of the beautiful creatures, of all colors and sizes, who make Loudoun the delightful place it is.

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