Thursday, February 12, 2015

Snow Birds

The snowstorms that have recently disrupted so many of our intentions inspires me to break into the current Series of Glimpses with a look out the window.
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There's nothing like affordable philanthropy to warm our better natures, especially when the donation goes fully and directly to needy neighbors.

I enjoy the tender virtue of sustaining birds at my feeder through a tough winter. But I also admit to enticing them to close range for the pleasure of their company.

White-throated sparrow
Each of these visitors becomes an animated work of art. It enlivens the frigid theater while I watch in comfort with toast and jam. Oddly enough the birds are not too careful at the feeder. They scatter some sunflower seeds to scavengers on the snow below. I don't suspect charity in their motives, any more than mine.
Mourning dove
One of the beneficiaries, a dove, paces into view as demurely as on a summer lawn. Its unprotected feet confound me. Light reflected up from the snow gives fair illumination to its subtle gray-brown spectrum.

Nearby a goldfinch keeps his feet tucked in to at least keep the wind off them while he busies himself with a seed.

A sudden gust breaks through the insulation of a towhee that has lingered unusually in our latitude for the winter. I allow myself to think these morsels will sustain him through his recklessness.

English sparrow
His benefactor overhead, a seed-scatterer, has a bad reputation for swarming bird feeders, over-consuming and dominating the perch. Appreciating English sparrows takes a certain detachment to put them in the right light.

Similarly, in the frosty moment, a starling appears like a sequined marvel of flight. I easily overlook the garrulous gangster habits it exhibits in flocks at other seasons.

Birdwatchers tend to categorize in terms of the good, the bad, and the beautiful. Good is associated with daintiness, liveliness, colorfulness, and rarity. The titmouse qualifies well on the first two qualities. But is there any bird not beautiful?

Blue jay
All the dainty ones scatter when a blue jay careens in with his brassy ways, his baleful eye and personality. What's your pleasure in blue? This sport has them all.

Song sparrow
One of nature's sweetest singers strikes an endearing pose on a single foot, the other tucked into a downy recess. The song sparrow's array of brown and white streaks seem as perfectly pretty as any bird, when you have the benefit of a zoom lens for detailed appreciation.
The Christmas Card Cliché bird can't help his stunning feathers in the winter landscape. He's well-mannered and incandescent, if illogical - a rarity in my youth and here are eight of them in the yard, pushing north.

For a fellow his size the cardinal is fairly tolerant of small fry on the margins of the feeder. The chickadee is in and out before the big guy forms a prejudice. The cardinal munches placidly, bovine-like. The chickadee is all agility, taking a single seed to a nearby branch to chip it open with his bill.

I can't walk by the window without a glance in their direction, a glance that often leads to lingering and absorption in the gathered birds. It's a kind of refreshment in entertainments beyond my design, in perkiness beyond my comfort zone.


  1. Fantastic combination of writing and photography. That Towhee shot is really something special! Thanks for sharing the awesome postings.