Thursday, February 3, 2011
Last week when I sunk a simple four by six a couple feet into the earth, who knew it would become the hottest new meeting place for miles around. To my surprise and joy, it has become a literal overnight sensation!
For the past seven months, our place has pretty much been a bird-free zone. Sure, there was the occasional visit from my inlaws' latest bluebird crop or a random afternoon blue jay looking for a meal in the close-cropped fields. But other than these few sightings, our treeless yard assured that all other creatures would stay hidden in the woods or only visit after dusk.
To me, no birds means no song, no music to accompany the other sounds of God's creation. From my front porch, I could hear the music of the wind blowing through the trees, so simple and beautiful in itself, but there was no blending in harmony with the other creations--unless you count my three very loud darlings (and I do not). It was just the wind.
This was bad.
I can name them. Even blindfolded, I know their songs. And each one is beautiful.
At our former homes, I've had a few conversations with the bobwhite quail , beckoning him into my yard. I've come home to find a scarlet tanager chose my yard as his stopping point on his migration north.
Something had to be done.
And so began project bird feeder. Not many fathers have opened their front doors to find a daughter holding several wooden boards, a box of deck screws, and saying the words, "we need to build a bird feeder like the one you have."
I've learned that news travels fast in bird communities. The pole wasn't even in the ground yet, and somehow, they knew what was coming.
I audibly roared each time I slammed the post hole digger into red Louisiana clay--tough work-- and that's when I heard them, watching from the fringes where open yard meets safety of the forest.
One voice, two, three...a hundred maybe? Who knew how many yellow finches were hidden amongst the leaves, watching my progress. Ne'er a flutter did I see, but oh the chatter as I stamped the dirt hard around the pole, as I filled the feeder with black oil sunflower seeds, as I scattered a few hand fulls over the leaves beneath it.
That afternoon, though, no one came to visit--I kept checking all throughout the evening. Dusk fell, and nothing. Disappointment.
The next morning, though, I looked out the window to see the ground alive with dozens of finches having breakfast in the leaves. Dozens more hopped around the feeder box as more flew in and out, depending on whether the bright red Cardinal was coming or leaving. And the air--oh, the air--was filled with the sound of music, different tongues coming together in song.
Almost invisible to those focused on the "look at me" zipping around of the little birds, off to the side, you'll find the morning dove. They've been coming since the weekend, always in multiples of two, always trying not to be seen. I think we're up to six of them now, but you wouldn't know by listening. They are the quiet ones, not saying much to contribute to the boisterous conversation of the little ones.
With a day of inclement weather and a thermometer that didn't go above the freezing mark, today's feeder was busier than ever. By afternoon, though, the finches had gone to batten down the hatches for the night. Even then, the dove stayed, quietly patrolling the flower bed, searching for delectable leftovers.
These two always come together and always leave together (usually when I startle them). Funny how even animals know what it takes to have a successful relationship with someone--spending time together.
From behind the glass door, I stood and watched.
For several minutes, one of the dove just sat there, not moving, feathers fluffed out for warmth. What was he doing? Surely there was a better place to keep warm than a middle of a tree-less field on a blustery day? His partner was a few feet away, active--pecking, eating, pecking, walking, pecking. Yet, he just sat.
And then I realized--he's waiting for her. Freezing his fuzzy tail off, just waiting for her to have her fill of seed before they fly home together.
Such a beautiful image of devotion, of commitment.
God's creation is just so beautiful.
at 8:33 PM