Each morning as I’m waking up, I try to remember the dreams I had the night before. Sometimes they’re nonsensical; sometimes they’re frightening. Sometimes they’re profound and poignant. Sometimes I try to puzzle a dream out and realize it’s my brain’s way of reassuring me about something: “Relax; you’ve got this.” And sometimes they’re just not loaded with much meaning.

A dream I seem to have every so often in that last category is that I’ve spotted some really cool and unusual bird, often right in my backyard. There’s not much more to the dream than that—other than the part where I wake up and realize that it didn’t actually happen, and/or that the bird doesn’t even exist in nature.

Last night I dreamed I was with a bunch of other photographers standing on a porch at some ecolodge, looking for a saffron toucanet—a beautiful bird in the same family as toucans, and one that I hope to see when I’m in Brazil next summer. And, sure enough, one landed on the railing directly in front of me. It was less than a foot away from me, looming over me, bigger than saffron toucanets are in real life. It was way too close to photograph, and besides, the sun was behind it, so it would have been a lousy shot all around. I just stood there, frozen, staring at it in amazement, and not wanting to move for fear of scaring it off. Other people were getting good photos—and laughing at my predicament.

Eventually the toucanet moved, and by then there were a lot of interesting birds lining the railings. But of course there was no memory card in my camera (as is always the case in dreams!), so I had to root around and find one.

And that’s all I remember.

I don’t think there’s anything particularly profound about this dream. No moral to the story—sorry! Mostly it just goes to show how geeky I am about birds, that I would dream at night about seeing them.

The photo you see above is of a real saffron toucanet, and it was taken by my friend JoAnne Fillatti when she went on the same Glenn Bartley trip to Brazil that I’ll be doing next summer. I really hope I’ll see a saffron toucanet, and I hope I can get an image half as good as JoAnne’s. A lovely bird and a beautiful image, wouldn’t you agree? Click on it to see it larger.

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