Eating Like a Bird

I earned a girl scout “birding badge” eons ago. I was a short-termer when it came to scouts, lured away by rock ‘n roll.  Now, names flash through my mind, not necessarily attached to the right bird. Nuthatch. Titmouse. Chicakadee. Names bigger than their wingspans. And the larger common ones that I do recognize: dove, bluejay, cardinal, woodpecker. From my desk, I can see the feeding station that my husband dutifully maintains. Birds swoop and grab a seed at a time. They give meaning to the saying “eats like a bird.” They move with determination and purpose, all to feast on nothing. Or nearly so.

For hierarchical reasons I don’t understand, the doves wait til last. A pair will share the feeder, with sleek dun gray feathers, a shade as soft as their warbling voices. Unlike the other birds that dart and elbow each other away, the doves move with careful calm. They mate for life, these quiet birds. They seem to appreciate shared mealtimes as well.

With the exception of the bizarre early snow storm that toppled trees and pulled down pulled  power lines, winter has not really arrived this year. When snow does cover the ground, the feeding flock will grow as it does every year. The cardinals will appear shocking red against the winter blanket. Sun yellow finches will look like they missed their ride back to the tropics. They will all queue up in the branches close to the house. It amazes me that the snatched seeds sustain them as temperatures dive. It surprises me even more how much I’ve come to enjoy watching them.

I am mesmerized by the endless ballet of aerial flights and pas de deux and the occasional tragedies when one of our cats intercedes. It’s a good deal; the seeds for the show. Not rock ‘n roll, but quietly satisfying.

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