the miraculous, every day in winter, not 15 feet from my window

red-birds-at-feeder

To the Editor:

Re “The Solace of Birds in Winter” (Op-Ed, Dec. 15): I am smitten with my backyard birds. What is it about the industrious little souls leaping delicately about my tray feeder that so lifts the spirit? Their spunk? Their equanimity no matter the weather? The variety in their eating habits?

Mourning doves plunk themselves down in the center of the tray to chow down. The red-bellied woodpecker grips the edge and won’t yield his position. The chickadees and nuthatches take a seed each, one at a time, to a nearby branch to nibble.

A chickadee weighs less than half an ounce. Its coat of feathers, half an inch thick, keeps its tiny body at about 90 degrees even when the air temperature is zero. It is this, then, that takes my breath away and is the source of my affection — the miraculous, every day in winter, not 15 feet from my window.

Margaret McGirr
Greenwich, Conn.

New York Times, Letters, December 17, 2018


Photo: Project Feeder Watch titled “See Red” by Stephen & Judy Shelasky, Longmeadow, MA. 4 male Cardinals, a Red-bellied Woodpecker and a little sparrow checking out a female Cardinal as she flies into view.

The word will get around

blue-jay-bird-feeder

I went out before breakfast
to fill the bird feeder.
So far only jays come,
but the word will get around.

~ May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude


Notes:

  • Photograph of female bluejay at bird feeder by Cyanocitta
  • Dec 23, 2015 forecast – a high of 54° F. Tomorrow’s forecast: high of 66° F

 

Squirrels. Cardinals. Bumble Bees. And Me.

CADDYSHACK, Bill Murray, 1980. (c) Warner Bros./ Courtesy: Everett Collection.

It’s difficult to understand how an innocuous  glance out the window could start a cascade of nonsense.  But, it did. And it does.

It’s Tuesday. I’m home on a late evening conference call. I see him through the window in the backyard.  He’s chubby-cheeked, hanging upside down, and clutching the iron cover of the bird feeder.

My call continued. And so did Chubby-Cheeks. The bird feeder is swinging from the pole. He’s shaking the cr*p out of it. And gorging on prime seed intended for goldfinches.  Had I been outside and not two floors up, I would have run the S.O.B. down.

My call continued.  I watched him. And wondered how this creature could manage to raise my ire.  This man, a college educated adult, 210 pounds (and counting)  vs. a foot-long squirrel weighing a pound or two.  There he was. Blissfully feeding. And I’m clenching a pencil between my teeth, tasting graphite on my tongue.

The call ended.  I ran down the stairs and out the door to find that he had vanished. Squirrel 483. DK: O.

Fast forward to Wednesday morning.  I’m heading out the door to walk to the train station.

There he was to my right.  Staring at me from the base of the evergreen tree in the front yard. Beady eyes.  His under carriage dragging on the grass, belly bursting from the bird seed. [Read more…]

Sunday Morning: They have chosen us

birds-feeder-spring

It is afternoon — the time of gathering. The long shadows of the day stretch out behind us. I am watching the birds land on the feeder outside our window. Grackles, chickadees, songbirds, and jays. Why have they chosen us? Despite cats, squirrels, noise, human intrusion, they brave everything to return here. I marvel as they make their peace with each other and share this common space…

They take their turns. The songbirds flutter, alight, grab a few grains, and retreat. The jays strut and preen. The grackles swoop down with impunity, take what they will. Far in the background, perched in a small pine tree, the chickadee sits patiently…[and then] swoops in and takes a small grain of corn…The chickadee flutters upward and disappears into the orange glow of evening. She was the last, and now she is gone. But she will be back. They will all be back. Though they have the freedom of the air, they have chosen us.

~ Kent Nerburn, Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life


Notes:

  • Credits: Thank you Susan for photo from backyard, 4pm, April 24, 2015.
  • Related Kent Nerburn posts
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