Welcome to The Birds Downtown

A starling on High Street, Holyoke, May 2010. (c) Greg Saulmon 2010

When I was a kid I had a favorite morning ritual: I’d wake up early, sneak into the kitchen, butter a piece of bread, turn on MTV for company and then sit in front of the sliding glass door to the patio of my family’s apartment on Barrett Street, eyes glued to the backyard.

There were birds out there.

They were mostly House Sparrows and Grackles and Starlings, but on a lucky day I’d spot an Evening Grosbeak or one of the Ring-Necked Pheasants that roamed the complex grounds.

I thought about birds all the time. If I wasn’t drawing birds I was wearing out the pages of a Peterson field guide. Sometimes I’d dream about birds: the backyard would look exactly as it did in real life, but it would be filled with Snowy Owls.

But then I got older. I discovered guitars and girls and the big-idea-filled fields of economics and journalism. I still had a soft spot for birds, but I didn’t make time for them.

Then I moved to Holyoke. Downtown Holyoke. And as I started to wander the streets with my camera, hunting for fascinating people and buildings to photograph, I realized: there are birds here, too.

So this is my tribute to the birds downtown. The photographs you see are mine, unless otherwise noted. If you’d like to share a city sighting — in Holyoke or elsewhere — please feel free to post a comment or drop me a line.

Thanks for reading.

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