Bird Quarrels and Peace

Summer photo - but still windy!
Summer photo – but still windy!

Last weekend, ferocious winds blew in a taste of winter. Bright and sunny with cold gusts that turned the leaves inside out and off their branches. I took my cue to get my winter nest ready and washed and aired flannel sheets and heavy blankets, letting them flap dry in the crazy wind.

A week later it’s summer again and I sit on my porch in shirtsleeves watching two red- headed woodpeckers follow each other back and forth between the trees. I am reminded there is a bright side to bare branches: the birds! Winter is prime bird watching time.

See the little profile there in the left?
See the little pecker-profile?

A drama unfolds between these two birds – one is noisily berating the other who ignoring the complaints without a peep, focuses on worrying the bark. And now a jay has announced himself with a shriek. He lands in the bird bath, eyes the empty feeders and leaves wanting no part of the fracas.

They’re still at it. If they were weaving a web as they flew between the trees, it would be impassable by now – they have passed back and forth between the trees so often.

The aggressive one just attacked the other, falling with a thud onto the lawn beside me. “Whoa! Easy guys!” I called out as if breaking up a schoolyard fight. Another bird – a catbird briefly lands and after noisy commentary, flees the scene. What’s wrong with them? It’s not mating season – maybe it’s time to claim their winter home. I have prime bird real estate in a good size stump snug up against another tree.

Battle for the stump?
Battle for the stump?

My bird show just took a dramatic turn with the sound of heavy flapping wings – I look up just in time to catch a large hawk or falcon chased by a smaller bird. I did not see if the bird of prey had scored a meal but I’d wager the scrappy bird chasing him will not be lunch.

This is what I miss when I leave here every day to go to work. If I won the lottery, I’d be content to report to you on nature’s news from out my window or from my porch and at the end of the day, I’d feel satisfied. Well, I’d punctuate this with walks and beach romps with the dog I would get.

I love observing the buzz of nature. The busy efforts of creatures and plants to survive and thrive on this magnificent earth. I am content to watch the birds and fattening squirrels on my tiny patch of land within earshot of the highway to New York City less than an hour away. An hour or two with this world on my doorstep is enough to bring me back to some essence of life well beyond the hamster-wheel that can be my life: my job, paying bills and worrying about this depressing election. I find peace in paying attention to the feel of the air, the smell of the seasons and the quarrels of birds.

6 thoughts on “Bird Quarrels and Peace”

  1. I saw what I thought was a hawk when walking near the sea yesterday. It landed on a branch near my head. When I looked it up later, it turned out to be an osprey. Such a thrill

  2. That’s so funny. We like to think of birds as peaceful, but they bicker as much as any species. still it always surprises me when I see hummingbirds attack each other as they approach the feeder. And it’s very humbling when I see tiny birds attack hawks 4 times their size trying to keep them away from their nests.

  3. Thoreau couldn’t have said it better. I’m with you — I would be mostly contented to watch (and listen to) the birds all day long.

  4. I LOVE this piece! What a commotion! I wonder what the deal was with the two woodpeckers? The fall to the ground was unusual and dramatic…and then the hawk chase as well! Whew! I love this time of year as well…and actually hearing the flap and flutter of the birds’ wings. And I, too, turn to nature, almost in desperation lately, as we humans seem to have jettisoned our aspirations to being thoughtful, dignified, kind, wise, and tolerant. Sigh. XXOO

  5. A person who knows how rich she is! In Moldova, watching the trees and the avian wildlife outside my floor-to-ceiling windows was a source of never-ending pleasure. It was the first time I had ever slowed down sufficiently in my life to appreciate the dramas like that you describe going on around me every day. I would not trade a corner office or fancy title for the freedom to appreciate the abundance and diversity of nature in play. Keep on reporting!

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