Birds of wonder

Bird1The chickadees are shy.

They see me, I am guessing, and flit away.

Other breeds are bolder. One fabulously handsome fellow with black and white polka dotted wings hangs nearly upside down on the edge of the feeder, almost as big as the feeder itself. The wise-looking nuthatches are the smartest – they rest on the perching bars and reach in for seed, just as the humans who designed the feeder intended for them to do.

All this is happening just three feet away from my desk, right outside my office. I attached a small birdfeeder, a clear plastic globe with two big portholes for accessing the seeds, to the outside of the window (thank you Barbara!) and now I’m enjoying a spectacular display of wildlife.

It’s as if a portal to another world has opened, and a chorus of birds has invited me in. Really? Me? Thanks!

Now that I am a close observer of this feathered community, I worry about some of the smaller birds – one got herself all the way into the globe, perched in the soft bed of seeds enjoying the abundance, then took long time finding her way back out. A few birds, of all sizes, fly straight at the feeder and bump into its plastic walls before they finally figure it out. But one of the most beautiful things about this arrangement is that I have no responsibility here, no real part to play, except to keep the feeder full. All I am allowed to do is sit back and watch how the birds take care of themselves.

They feast – delicately, seed by seed, or ferociously, depending on the breed. The woodpeckers make me laugh out loud — no wonder Walter Lantz chose them for the comic Woody Woodpecker, they are hilariously herky-jerky and deliriously unaware of their outsized energy. They attack the pile of seed, jabbing and poking so that bits and pieces flies everywhere, the way food flies from a baby’s highchair. I imagine bird friends picking up the mess on the deck below.

Then there are the super-quick sparrows, furtively stealing seed and flying away as if staying more than a millisecond would be far too dangerous. There is the banded chickadee, with a handsome red bracelet around its leg – probably a specimen from the Smithsonian research conducted in our area over the last several years. There’s a flash of crimson at the edge of the window – Papa Cardinal considering whether to join the feast.

Who is that speckled black and white fellow with the bandit mask? And will that bluejay make it over from that tree branch?

For a week now I have been observing them all, and I am still awed by the whole display. But I am also accepting this flock of new friends as part of my day. A little house wren lands and first I catch my breath, in wonder once again – then settle in to the knowledge that she is a sort of companion, a part of the rhythm of the neighborhood – I can just see her more clearly now that I have invited her to come closer.

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