Tuesday, January 12, 2010

WInter Day








My days are filled with birds.




Dawn brings the seed-eaters to my doorstep. The two feeders that hang from the bare branches of the lilac bush are always filled with millet and sunflower seeds for the small songsters that winter over. By first light the chickadees, the little white-breasted snowbirds, and a pair of cardinals are breakfasting just outside my window. They come unannounced and speak quietly among themselves. Only the jays make noise. They perch and sway on the bendy branches at the very the top of the lilac and screech. I stand at the door and watch them, the steam from my teacup curling up and fogging the window. When I rub it with my sleeve, the motion frightens them and the jays take off like buckshot.

Most times when I open the door the chickadees merely flutter and hop to the far side of the bush. They are not as timid as the snowbirds or the tiny finches that dart off at the slightest movement. If it is not too cold, and it is near their feeding time, I can stand still with my hand outstretched and a chickadee or two will light on my fingers and eat the seed from my palm.

Where summer birds herald the sunrise, winter birds don’t sing at all – they talk. They twitter to one another. They might chirp a warning or tootle a couple of notes but they don’t sing melodies the way songbirds do. They’re too cold, I suspect, and too busy eating. Their limited tonal offerings only accentuate the great silence, that deep hush that descends with the cold and underlies all sound.

11 comments:

herhimnbryn said...

Brrrrrrrrr!

But the cup of tea and the merry birds must warm you.

Tabor said...

Oddly enough today two wrens began singing their hearts our and also chasing away other birds from the suet feeder on my deck!

Reya Mellicker said...

I've tried so many times - and failed just as many times - to understand bird language. I know they are communicating with each other, but what are they saying? Sometimes I think they're saying, "It's going to rain - pass it on" or something like that. Who knows?

Barbara said...

I too would love to know what the birds are saying. They probably gossip about the jays and other more obnoxious birds. Kudos to you for providing seed to get them through the long winter.

Paul said...

Too bad I didn't know the names for flora and fauna... There was this one species of bird I'd hear when I used to jog at sunrise in New Hampshire. One higher note followed by one lower note. I'm not positive after all this time, but I think the lower was held a little longer.

It was so simple and beautiful and with a poignant quality.

So sounds like what... the dove-tailed sparrow warbler??

Pauline said...

HHB - feathered friends and hot tea - magic

Wrens can be feisty little buggers, Tabor

Reya - if only we understood!

Barbara - they would probably survive without me but I like knowing the birds that cheer me so with their presence are well fed.

Could have been the common starling, Paul. They whistle like that and some of them spend the winter in the cold and snow...

Land of shimp said...

I needed this, Pauline. Thank you :-) We're still involved in an epic war against pigeons, I still can't bring myself to have them permanently dealt with, and sent to the next incarnation (or whatever happens), so instead we tromp around with wooden hawks, ultra sticky stuff to put on drainpipes, spiky creations to stick in overhangs.

I'm unlikely to win the war, and have started to think of groups of anything with wings as being, "The enemy! The Usurpers! The Interlopers!"

So I really needed to see a group of pretty little birds, accompanied by lovely, lilting words. It helped me remember that, aside from the tenacity of pigeons, I've always thought birds rather pretty.

Thank you for the reminder!

JeannetteLS said...

Ah, Pauline. This brought to mind a lovely Vermont morning when I stood quietly on an old beau's deck and a chickadee alighted on my finger, hopped into my hand to eat. I'd never known such lightness... nor joy on some level. I do love your blog.

Pauline said...

LOS - no pigeons here. Lots of doves and some jays but mostly little song birds.

Jeannette - Vermont, snow, feeding the birds - brings back memories for me, too. Glad you enjoy my blog :)

Molly said...

Love the picture of little chickadees eating from your hand.

Don't understand how i missed all these posts---they usually show up when you've written something new.....

Pauline said...

Molly - the cyber world is a strange place...