Posts Tagged ‘White-breasted Nuthatch’

Jays, Peanuts, and Independence

September 6, 2010

I’m on a porch in the mountains. As I write this, a White-breasted Nuthatch pecks at the small bird feeder directly in front of me.  At my feet an Oregon Junco hops around, impertinently ignoring the dogs who likewise ignore her. Soon, she’s replaced with a Pine Siskin who also ignores the dogs. Dwindling numbers of hummingbirds who haven’t departed for the south are contesting for primary rights to each of three feeders and some Steller’s Jays are perched in the evergreen in the yard, yelling at me.

They’re yelling because I just put some nice, fresh peanuts on top of my car which is parked right in front of the porch on which I sit and the Jays apparently think the peanuts should be somewhere else.

Too bad. I want some close-up photos of the jays and those peanuts are their modeling fee. But they have to come get them. I can be as stubborn and cantankerous as any jay. That may be the reason I love them so much, I recognize kindred spirits. Probably has something to do with my authority issues. I don’t like being told what to do anymore than those jays like being told they have to come to my car to get the peanuts.

The chipmunks have so such scruples; they come to other end of the porch and hop up in the bucket that holds the peanuts.

Yesterday, I cut down some bushes that were growing next to the porch and the Juncos are prowling around in the resulting brush pile. They were perfectly good bushes; inoffensive, pretty, and innocent, but they had become “ladder fuel,” ground-dwelling plants high enough to reach low tree branches in a wildfire. The resulting pile will have to be moved, which won’t please the juncos, but they’ll be more polite about it than the jays are about their peanuts.

Thinking the Bird

September 4, 2009

Across and above the creek the Ponderosa Pines stand, anchored in the good earth, staring south toward the willows lining the creek.  Further south, a creature with my name sits in a clearing, waiting for a bird to appear.

There ought to be a White-breasted Nuthatch somewhere around here, I think.  This is a mature forest, with water, insects, seeds, and cover. It’s the right time of the year, it’s midday, and later it is going to rain.
And, after a while, a White-breasted Nuthatch makes its upside-down appearance, climbing down one of the pines, gracing my thought of it with its reality.

I don’t mean to imply that I conjure up birds by thinking about them.  Far from it.  Unlike my wife, I just haven’t been birding long enough to know where to look and what to look for, without thinking about it first.  While I was busy thinking that this is good habitat for White-breasted Nuthatches, I probably missed ten other birds.

Because I am not much of a birder yet, I often have to think about a bird before I see it.  If I was better at it, I would see the birds without having to think them first.  Like other artists, truly adept birders don’t have to do as much thinking.  They transcend the thinking process; they just “see.”  Of course, their “seeing” is an educated seeing. Following their avocation for years enhances and refines the skill and they do their homework about the kinds of birds that live around them, so that flicker of movement conveys more meaning to them than to an uneducated eye.

Perhaps one day, if I live long enough, I will reach that plateau where thought comes after the sighting and not before.  In the meantime, I suppose I’ll just have to keep thinking if I want to see any birds.

%d bloggers like this: