Thanksgiving gets people thinking about birds. For most folks it’s about eating one, the one upside down on the dining room table, with side dishes of tradition, heritage, community, family, good friends — all cause enough for gathering and celebration. As a former restaurateur living in West Tisbury is fond of saying about the entirety of life itself, “It’s all about the food.”

It’s the ensemble cooking, the unveiling of steaming repast, the lifting of corks and artful carving of the gleaming roast, the gravy simmering. Then the eager knocks at the door, the squeals of recognition; the bright beach sojourns trailing fresh tracks in the sand and, later, the pulsing orange fireplace coals bolstering the home against those gray winds. Be thankful.

Let us be thankful as well for the wild birds. They are miracles. Across the lonely sky, deep in the evergreen forest, meandering the winter crops of farm fields or riding the lift over a seaside bluff, birds of many ilk are about the business of staying alive, finding enough food to keep their engines running against the cold or to fuel flights on to more generous habitats. From kinglets flitting through the woods to gannets folding to pierce the ocean, the variety and wealth of bird life on the Vineyard right now are quite astounding. They may be less obvious than summertime’s songsters, but there are more gull species, more duck species, more raptors and more seed-eating types, like sparrows and finches, than we have in the warm seasons. We are missing the insectivorous nesting species that have from necessity flown south. Their food is hard or impossible to find, so their tenure here is mostly over.

However, more birds, chiefly the ones that swim on the ocean and find food within it, are arriving to spend the cold months. The seas around the Vineyard host more winter season waterfowl now — grebes, loons, razorbills, gannets, mergansers, eiders, scoters, long-tailed ducks — than all the diving terns and squawking gulls of summer. Our windswept land is still welcoming to the hardy. Our waters are still rich. Be thankful.