Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bird Fashion Show

Just so you know, none of these birds match the paragraph.

I think I've always had a thing about the wee birdeens--watching them, making up stories about them, talking about them, reproducing their calls, feeding them, finding their eggs, teasing them, eating them. I just don't hang around with binoculars and a bird book and catalog them.

I even have several posts on here about birds. Eagles, hawks, chickadees, doves, mockingbirds, possibly peacocks, and the ones who hide dog food in our jeans on the clothesline (cactus wrens) figure in somewhere in past blog posts. I'm not sure what's so appealing about watching and listening to them other than that it's soothing, like watching tropical fish.
What? You don't carry your duck on your head?

This subject came to mind because I was out hanging clothes at 1am and there was a mockingbird, newly returned to the neighborhood, out there singing away. He reminded me of a drunken Irishman singing one of those endless drinking songs, each verse different. Some people hate them, because they don't have a filter. They'll sing in the middle of the night right outside your window and keep you awake for hours imitating car alarms and ambulance sirens among a zillion other things. I love them for their creativity.

I love hawks and eagles for their raptor sharpness and sleek grace. They kept me company while I ran in the park I used to run in. It was always fun to watch them go from hopping around on the ground, to that maiden flight from the trees when they launched all raggedly knocking branches off, to that singing glide up to the park lights to take their thrones.

Watching the chickadees who have inhabited our birdhouse for generations (sometimes three a year) reminds me of raising kids by how they squabble over what they think is theirs when it's been someone else's while they were away growing up. Those little things can get vicious!

There are the trailer trash birds like the doves who are so stupid they'll build their nests in palm trees among other places. The first decent wind knocks their nests right out of the downward-tilted fronds. We've nursed several baby doves back to life after they plunge to the ground. We have one right now who always builds her nest in our hanging planter and freaks out if we open our front door precipitously. The thing is, she's loyal. She won't budge from her eggs (unless they're smashed on the ground, that is) for anything. She just plants her feathery butt right there next to our door and gives us the evil eye if we dare go in or outside.

I love to tease the cactus wrens by reproducing their calls. And they tease me back by filling the jeans on the clothesline with dog food chunks. It took me a while to figure that one out. I kept blaming my husband's old roommates, who, strangely, still seemed to be following us around to various places of abode to play their tricks on us.

The Gambel quails are scurrying across the road pretty much every time they see a car go by. I think it's a prerequisite of being a quail. You must take your whole family in a heart-stopping sprint across the road every time you see a vehicle approaching, regardless of speed. Maybe it's how they weed out the slow kids.

Well. So it's the first day of spring, which means the birds are back in droves. The gem-like humming birds are dive bombing the aloe vera stalks. There are conferences of fluffed out birds congregating on every power or phone line. They sing in the daylight and the dead of night.

I'm thankful for birds. They cheer me, entertain me, and fill me with wonder. And now, I think I'll go put one of their children in my pancakes.