Janet Sheridan: Bird matching
Do you notice birds?
Whether singers or squawkers, flashy or plain, aggressive or timid, the birds of Craig interest and entertain me. Hoping you like them as well, I’ve created a bird-matching game for today’s column. Six birds commonly seen in and around Craig are listed first; my unscientific descriptions follow. Your job is to match them.
Raven, Magpie, Blackbird, Robin, Chickadee, Hummingbird
Bird one: This bird enters yards with confidence. Independent and self-reliant, it spends a lot of time hopping, refuses to hang out with a flock, disdains feeders, and bathes in public unabashedly. I once saw a young one of the breed land on the rim of a birdbath and wobble precariously before flopping into the water-filled basin. After several efforts, soaked and frenzied, wings flapping franticly, it regained the rim. As I watched it totter, shudder. and shake, I imagined its thoughts: “I know bathing is what we do, but I don’t need no bath!”
Bird two: As though suffering from mistaken identities, three large, glistening birds, black-cloaked and sharp-nosed, stalked the street, played chicken with cars, and squabbled like sparrows. Next, one imitated a hummingbird’s quick spiral up and away; another went bobbin’ like a robin in a water-filled gutter; and number three attempted to trill like a warbler but settled for a mangled caw. Then suddenly, as though remembering their calling, the three flew to the crown of a cottonwood tree where they indulged in their favorite activity: harassing and belittling an unaware owl.
Bird three: This stylish bird dresses in a black cap, a bib, and layers of sculpted gray feathers. Unfortunately, its distracted personality clashes with its look of understated elegance. It flies into our yard, then flits to a tree, a feeder, a bush, and yet another tree as though it imbibed too much coffee for its small body. It never holds a pose nor enjoys a leisurely meal. Instead, it drops from a tree to our feeder, selects a single seed, and flies into another tree to eat it. Then, meal finished, it follows its erratic flight pattern from our yard to its next — brief — stop. And I relax.
Bird four: I sit still, struck by this bird’s Gothic look. It reminds me of a tiny, religious idol in a shadowed nook in a chapel of stones, towers, and turrets. Burnished bronze with a blood-red blaze shimmering on its chest, it could be a replica of a saint or martyr. Then I sneeze. The hovering bird turns its intense, pulsing, crimson heat toward me, wings spread and quivering as though nailed to a cross, feet dangling uselessly. We silently contemplate one another, then the luminous bird, losing the aura I had imagined for it, darts away in search of nectar.
Bird five: On Cedar Mountain, Joel and I heard staccato calls and sighted several slender-bodied birds. Startled airborne by our presence, they executed sharp turns with their rudder-like tails before crossing a ravine to perch on a juniper. Their high-luster black and white feathers, reminiscent of penguins or nuns, created a contrast as distinct as humanity’s split decision on the worth of these birds. Do they fly in eye-catching flocks or mischief-making gangs? Are they interesting, iridescent beauties or empty-headed, worthless thieves? Is their habit of eating the eggs of others responsible for the diminishing population of song birds or are household cats more to blame?
Bird six: A tumult of identical, ebony birds swooped into a tree and busied itself where not wanted, loudly chirping mindless inanities, littering haphazardly, dominating tree, yard, and neighborhood. We condemn these birds as pests when in a flock, but praise them as a dainty dish when set before a king.
Those of you who played my game have my appreciation; and those who enjoyed it, have my admiration.