Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Daily Delights: My Backyard Birds

I love birds. While it’s exciting to travel far afield to seek out rarities, the familiar birds in my own yard provide daily riches of beauty and interest.

As winter warms into spring I appreciate:

· The brilliant black of a titmouse's eyes
· The wonderfully comic way the blue jay bobs up and down when it gives its "bell" call
· The watchful way the downy woodpecker waits patiently (just 2 feet away) when I put out fresh suet
· The endearingly tender way that the cardinals and blue jays feed each other as they establish or renew their mated bonds.
· The elegance, variety, and utility of birds' legs and feet.
· The bold beauty of a Flicker's bill.
· The iridescence of a Grackle, and its funny swaggering gait.
· The way the Mourning Doves' wings crack and whistle when they spring up from the deck.
· The bubble-gum pinkness of the Doves' little feet, and their soft "pigeon-toed" walk.
· The curious chickadees who come over to inspect me, then go off to tell everyone else all about it.
· The scarlet, scarlet SCARLET of the Red-Bellied Woodpecker's head and nape!
· The pugilism of the Robins tussling over property rights.
· The deep blackness of the male House Sparrow's bib now that he's in breeding plumage.

Later this spring I’ll enjoy, as I do every year:

· The flash of Oriole Orange against a Brilliant Blue sky.
· The pure clarity – oh, like cool water! – of the Oriole's song.
· The velvety black of the Catbird's cap.
· The distant call of the Veery in the early morning, what my mother used to call "spiraling down a bamboo pipe."
· The tenacity of the female Rose-Breasted Grosbeak as she repeatedly returns to the same honeysuckle bush to select and snap off twigs and carry them off to the next yard, where she is building a nest
· The sweetness of the male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak's song as he watches her work.

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