Monday, September 24, 2012

Sentinels of the Salton Sea

Much like on Tatooine and the other far-flung desert planets of our universe, the area surrounding the Salton Sea is a desolate stretch that seems the spurn the very idea of wholesome life. The inhabitants out there scrape their existence off of rocks and out of the ground. Life is bleak and the very notion of 'cheer' has not penetrated that far into the ether.

This impression does not radically change as one gets nearer and nearer to the saline waters, and yet certain signs of life start to pop-up out of the ubiquitous sandy scapes.

And not just literal signs, but something even more promising. All of the dirt roads leading around the sea are closely watched by winged sentries. With their eyes never blinking and minds always thinking, nothing enters or exits the sea without the sentries' knowledge.

The Burrowing Owls are only the first line of defense, the chain of outposts and alerts that sense any intrusions well before the intruder can catch a glimpse of the fetid fens and their feathered friends. Bawling Blackbirds and blathering Black-neckled Stilts fill the air with a crossfire of obnoxious screeching. Everywhere they patrol, never granting birders or explorers a moment's peace.

Sure, they look gentle and soft. So do babies, but you don't want to sit next to either on an airplane!

So...why? Why are they so diligent in such a desolate place? What are they guarding? What precious treasure does the Salton Sea contain, what consecrated commodity that requires such constant surveillance? Pelicans, obviously...

Sweet, helpless, innocent, pure, and jejune, the Salton Sea Pelicans that must be protected at all costs, even as their numbers swell into the thousands.

Despite their large size, powerful build, and legendary durability, White Pelicans are actually tiny, delicate, and exceedingly fragile. As such, the Burrowing Owls, Black-necked Stilts, and Yellow-headed Blackbirds have taken it upon themselves to keep the Pelicans safe and secure in the Salton Sea, where they can stay insulated from the cares and troubles of the modern world.

Tragically, some ungrateful Pelicans still leave the sanitized boundaries of their salty confines every day, showing a disregard and disrespect for the Salton sentries' efforts as they risk life and limb in superfluous displays of aeronautics. Floating is safe, but when the Pelicans fly, oh...the Burrowing Owls do worry so.

But the sentinels of the Salton Sea do not need thanks or recognition for their work. even in their stubbornness, White Pelicans are a precious commodity, and the self-satisfaction the sentries find in their sacrifice is reward enough for their service. Ever vigilant, ever ready!