Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Backyard Theater

Our house is tucked into an alcove of trees. We are surrounded by a living stage. Birds step from the shadows and give impromptu performances from dawn to dusk.

There is a aviary card game at the bird feeder outside my kitchen window. House sparrows trump song sparrows. Cardinals trump downy woodpeckers. Bluejays and red headed woodpeckers trump cardinals. Insatiable Squirrel trumps bluejays. Allegra, the cat hidden in the hosta plants, trumps Insatiable. I watch. Watching trumps my attempt to wash the dishes.

Robins and thrashers hop about in the grass. They pluck an insect dinner from the ground. Cardinals "chip" and chickadees "buzz." Bluejays chatter and scream...a wildlife alarm system. The right cry can send clouds of birds winging for cover in the canopy above. A red bellied woodpecker chuckles to himself as he backs down the tree leading to the feeder. A red winged blackbird whistles a lonely whistle.

We eat lunch in the sunroom and see an unusual sight in a vine twining around a tree at the corner of our house. A cedar waxwing tears at ripe purple berries and whistles the location of the booty to his companions. A horde of masked bandits descend and break the silence as they gobble and whistle and chatter. Before we can get the camera, the cat escapes and lies in wait under this flurry of activity. The birds fly away. They do not return. Berries remain on the vine. We return to our lunch, disappointed.

A hawk glides out from the trees. He catches a thermal and floats in circles. We clear away the remainders of lunch. He is still circling as we finish.

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