Saturday, March 08, 2008


IMG_6765_1This year the birds are back.

At the parkhouse the main kitchen window was five feet tall and had six panes. A yellow cedar sat in front, its downward sloping limbs served to shield the window from the lawn outside. We had a bird feeder suspended from one of them, and our kitchen table was a semi circle that faced this window, giving us a front seat view of everyone who visited.

There were chickadees, sparrows and finches, mostly. Sometimes starlings would invade and muscle out the songbirds and we'd have to throw rocks to scare them away. The crows were too big to use the feeder so we never saw them there. Occasionally a junko would make an appearance, but they're shy birds, preferring to pick through the seeds that have dropped on the ground, and disappearing the moment they think they're being watched.

A pair of finches used to make their nest inside the feeder on top of the seeds. We'd watch them come back year after year. Their day-to-day life became the source of much conversation and I missed them when they stopped coming back.

There were squirrels too. Doug the douglas squirrel was the first. We watched him slowly fatten himself up on seeds when there were no birds around.

Mabel was the biggest squirrel. She was grey, which isn't common around here. One time I watched Sally chase her around the base of the tree. They'd run around one direction, then stop to catch their breaths, then they'd both switch direction and run the other way. It didn't seem to occur to them that perhaps they should run away from the tree or up it. It was the sort of scene that cartoons are made of, except that it was life and death.

Harvey the nocturnal flying squirrel was shy. He'd sit on the roof in the dark and reach down to the seeds, his armpit flaps bunched up underneath him. If you turned on the light, he'd stare directly at you before gliding off into the darkness.

The first thing I noticed when I moved back was that there were no birds anymore. The neighbourhood was silent, but that seems to be changing finally. I haven't seen any birds yet, but I can hear them.