Wednesday, December 15, 2010


The day before the big snow, I was keeping three dogs for friends who were out of town. I'd been distracted by the dogs so when I looked out and saw dozens of birds sitting on the wires in the back of the yard, staring at the back door, and waiting, even though it had gotten late for the afternoon seed I dropped everything and got it out there. The Big Snow was coming and they and I both knew they were going to need their meal before roosting.

Guilty, I put out a double helping.

And then it came, and came and came. The wind began to blow with vigor and the temperature plummeted to below zero.

The next day, I waited for the rush to the feeders but no one came, that I saw anyway. Was it the dogs? Needless to say the dogs didn't spend any longer than absolutely necessary outside and being of the very short legged variety they didn't do much running around even when they were out there. The snow was so deep they rather floundered around in it very briefly and then galumphed back inside. But still, no birds. No Doorstep Dove and Friend either I began taking the dogs out the front door, just in case they were an issue.

I stood staring out the backdoor. Where were they? Then whoosh, the Cooper's Hawk sailed across the yard and went that-a-way into the trees above.

Was she still out there somewhere? There was nobody in sight but the snow woman and her child staring into icy infinity.

Looking around, I realized the strange clunk I'd heard during the storm was the cracking of a limb off the Maple that thankfully it didn't make a direct hit on the roof with the stout section.

Where were the birds?

Ah, the sparrows were emerging from their snow covered stick pile. The Coop must be gone.

Silver watched as some juncos arrived.

And then there she was, Doorstep Dove, accompanied by Friend, peering in the door as the sparrows headed back to the pile and Silver got into a serious preening session.

The little birds returned but still Doorstep stared. At first I thought she was looking at me but she didn't do a head bob in my direction which is her usual behavior to me. I return the bob and she goes about her business. Was she looking at the parrot?

She then marched up and looked directly through the window, while Friend peered from the side. Seemingly having satisfied herself about whatever it was. everyone then proceeded to eat.

A while later I looked back, everyone was gone and Silver was puffed up having a late afternoon nap.

Well not everyone was gone., Mr. Downy and a male House Finch were having a few sunflower seeds before bed.

H. Finch gave us a stare while he shucked.

I looked up and there were Doorstep and Friend--not off to roost just yet. Instead they'd taken their particular perch in the maple tree to catch the last warm rays of the day.

The sparrows often do the same, on the top of the pile but the sun had moved behind the spruce and one by one they were retiring into the shelter of their now almost igloo stick pile. The cover of snow making it even snugger than before.

Donna Browne

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