Friday, May 04, 2007

A new fondness

I have many friends and family members who are serious bird people, but I'm just not one of them. I think Hitchcock scarred me and kept this animal lover from opening myself too much to birds. I'm much more interested in learning to identify all the trees and plants around here than I am in identifying the birds, but I'm beginning to see where that desire comes from.

Every time I see a hawk, my heart lifts. Hawks don't just fly. When they take to the air, they soar each and every time, whether it's in lazy, playful circles or a dive that could induce a heart attack in its prey.

There is a new cardinal couple building a nest in the tree directly in front of my living room window. He's so brilliant and flashy, his mate smaller and paler. and I love to see them work together. They're quiet and diligent. His looks may steal the show, but she calls the shots, and it shows. Tonight, I left bits of cross-stitch floss under the tree in hopes that their nest will be soft.

I love the squawking blue jays who are nesting in the other tree in my front yard. They remind me of a long married couple who has thrived on bickering, knowing each other for the cranks they are, knowing when they can tease and when to soothe. They have an energy that just makes me smile.

Directly across the street is a stand of trees that forms a gentle barrier between an elementary school playground and a farmer's field. That field was brown dirt on Tuesday. Today, it holds a whisper of green with new sprouts that are too young for me to identify. Last year, they grew soybeans. Will this year be corn or cotton? An owl lives in those trees. Her slow, almost mournful song is the percussion to the tree frog symphony I hear every night. I keep hoping I'll see her eyes some night.

Despite my love for Harper Lee's masterpiece, I just can't find it in me to love mockingbirds though. They do amuse me. There's a regular near here that imitates not just other birds, but barking dogs and the distinctive engine sound of my husband's obstinate truck. However, mockingbirds have waged war on my cats for years. Our late feline matriarch, Mamasan, was one tough Maine coon cat. A lean and muscular 20 pounds of cat grace, she ruled as queen of the neighborhood for years, cowing a neighbor's Great Dane into tail tucking submission. So obviously in charge that even when I had a herd of more than twenty cats, she demanded the right to eat first and to eat alone without me having to banish the rest of the cats outside. Mockingbirds, however, would target her and zoom down to peck her, pluck her hair, then sail away laughing, to come back again. It was only those birds who could make her run and hide. The rest of my cats, who could be easily be called pussycats, don't stand a chance. The smallest simply drops, paralyzed in fear, when she hears mockingbirds.

For such little creatures, these birds pack tremendous personality, and I think that's what's drawing me in. I'm seeing them as unique and special, and I feel good about that. It's a quiet thrill inside when you know that your eyes have been opened, and you're seeing the universe as it should be seen, where everything is exceptional.

birds, nature


Blogger Lisa :-] said...

I'm one of those serious bird people... I've never lived where there are mockingbirds. What little buggers they are!

May 05, 2007 2:20 AM  
Blogger Gannet Girl said...

Another serious bird person here --and "everything is exceptional" is a great birding motto!

May 05, 2007 5:10 AM  
Blogger Charlene said...

OMG - are we sisters? I have a bluebird house and it is fun to watch the couple build and raise their babies - at a distance. Get yourself a hummingbird feeder. Those tiny little gems are amazing. I now have five...

May 05, 2007 9:50 AM  

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