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Outdoors: Unconsidered trifles

The Urban Nature Enthusiast

In Shakespeare’s "A Winter’s Tale," Autolycus is a rogue, "a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles."

Autolycus was a thief.

Noticing that some birds often snap up unconsidered trifles, British ornithologists, remembering their Shakespeare, called the behavior "autolycism."

It happens here in America, too.

Birds frequently help themselves to fur from mammals, feathers from others birds, shed snake skins, even human litter for various uses.

Presumably, if it is an unconsidered trifle, the animal or person that loses it never misses it.

But unconsidered trifles, especially if they are shiny, are precious to birds.

I have read about nests containing everything from gum wrappers to hundred-dollar bills.

I’ve never found money in an abandoned nest, but once at Interlochen, I found a nest that contained a used clarinet reed.

I mention this because I want to share another Winter’s Tale.

A young married couple was cross-county skiing. Fearing that her wedding ring might slip from her cold finger, the woman asked her husband to put her ring in his pocket.

To make a long tale short, by the end of the day, the ring was missing, and alas, even after exhaustive search, it still is.

I have no way of knowing, but I just wonder if high a pine tree, a sparkling diamond decorates the nest of a crow.

If so, this would be considered autolycism, but I can assure you, to my friend who lost her ring, the diamond was not an unconsidered trifle.