Perhaps I’m more attuned to nature since moving to New Mexico, but I must protest a bit. I’ve always loved the outdoors. My parents had a modest place on Georgia’s Clarks Hill Lake, and I spent my young years on or near the water.
Out here near the Rio Grande, animal life dominates. A pageant of life and death is literally at my door.
The other evening the pups alerted me with aggressive barking signaling something was up. In the gray light of day’s end, a bit of motion in the large alfalfa field in front of our home caught my eye. The pups were dead-on certain there was something amiss, and finally I was able to ascertain the perfectly camouflaged form of a young coyote on her evening hunt.
Had the pups escaped the house there would have been no contest. They think they are bad to the bone, but they are wrong. After all, they get their gourmet dinner delivered to them every night and think nothing of it. Every day is a struggle for La Coyote.
I thought having a bird feeder was one of those incremental surrenders to aging. I wish I had put bird feeders out when we lived back in Rome, for our wooded backyard would have been a bird watcher’s paradise. This was my mistake.
I now buy bird feed in the large bags and put out scoops in two locations pretty much every day.
Outside my writing and music studio I have a proper bird feeder, which is suspended from a yellow crook. I have located the feeder so that I can merely rotate my gaze from my computer screen/microphone and see whatever avian activity is taking place. We recently taped filmmaker Jerry G. Angelo for an episode of our podcast “The Dungball Express” in my studio and I noted he could not keep his eyes from the activity outside the window.
At hand I have two very nice bird identification books that were given to me by my daughter and her husband. If I have one disappointment it is that the bird variety attracted to my feeders is rather limited. Every now and then I will receive a surprise visitor, but the mourning doves normally win the day in quantity and quality of beauty.
I would simply love it if the giants of the area, the sandhill cranes, would saunter (they never run, they saunter) up to the bird feeder for some free roughage, but their beak system (is that a thing?) is more suited for digging and probing the earth beneath their incredibly spindly legs.
On the other side of our house I spread birdseed on the ground. Smaller and more delicate birds dominate this area and they generously tolerate one ground squirrel who comically comes over, fills his cheeks to capacity, and then races to his nearby burrow. The little chickadees pay their mammalian neighbor no mind as they hop from seed to seed. They are a bit competitive with each other, but it never gets ugly.
Our New Mexican home is filled with oversized windows that have been treated with some sort of reflective material. This treatment allows us to see out and keeps a bit of the blazing heat from overcooking the house. That’s my theory anyway.
This is problematic for the birds, in that some bang into the windows and many do not recover.
One morning this week I was talking to the pups when the sound of a bird crashing into the bedroom window startled the three of us. I stepped to the window and a small creature was sitting completely stunned.
What transpired astonished me.
At first the other birds paid the somewhat paralyzed bird no attention. From my vantage point inside I could not absolutely determine if the creature was even alive. Suddenly the little bird’s head moved very slightly, but the bird remained cemented in place. My curiosity was piqued.
After quite a while, a fellow bird hopped over to her injured friend and eyed her carefully. No movement was offered. Suddenly the visitor hopped around behind the injured bird and pecked at its tail. No movement again. The friend then hopped to the other side and pecked at the still tail. Nothing.
A few other birds hopped over to check out this wounded relative. At this point, I figured the end was near.
Very quickly, a dominant bird flew right down to the paralyzed bird. This animal presented itself with an aggressive flutter of its wings.
Miraculously, the wounded bird responded. The dominant bird repeated its flurry of wings and, like a healing nurse, escorted the bird up to a nearby cherry tree limb, and then into the skies.
You see, I believe this flock cared for its own. One bird attempted to help but was unsuccessful. Others made quick visits, and then one leader aroused the bird from her stupor and guided her to safety, and, hopefully, no further encounters with reflective windows.
Readers, I’m not going to bang you on the head with this one. You get it. Learn from nature. More to come.