Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Simple Pleasures, or The Adorable Birds on my Porch

There are many little things in life that make us smile. I was reminded today of the simple joy of bird watching. We've got a little porch on the back of our apartment. Shortly after we moved in, we started putting bird seed out on the railing, and now we have a bird feeder. We have a whole variety of adorable birds who come visit. We've spent a year and a half cultivating a "friendship" with these little birdies and they do often come visit.

We have nearly a dozen Chickadees who come visit. They're Carolina Chickadees, so they're smaller than the northern Chickadees. They dart to and fro, almost faster than the eye can see. Sometimes they dart a little faster than their eyes can see and occasionally run into tree branches or my sliding glass door. They always fly away unharmed. They are so much fun to watch. They swoop into the bird feeder, grab a seed (usually the biggest one they can find quickly), and dart off to the nearest tree branch (hardly more than a twig) to eat the seed unbothered. They chatter at each other and avoid all of the larger birds, except the mourning doves. They have a tendency to perch in odd positions and will literally queue up along the chain holding the bird feeder to wait their turn at the perch. It's really, really cute.

Very similar to the Chickadees are the nuthatches. We have many brown-headed nuthatches and a couple of pygmy nuthatches, though that may be the same one who visits over and over again. I think the brown-headed nuthatches are my favorite. They look a little like chipmunks and act a little like them, too. They are jumpy and easily startled. They are also rather acrobatic, hanging from the bird feeder or the railing at very strange angles, even upside down. Like the Chickadees, they too prefer the largest seeds, which are usually the sunflower seeds. They do tend to quarrel a little more than the Chickadees, but require much less space to calm down. I love seeing the little brown headed nuthatch walk around on the folding chairs we have on the porch; they go upside down and sideways and backwards. It's really funny. I don't see very much of the pygmy nuthatch, though that may just be because it is hard to distinguish it from the brown headed nuthatches. When I can tell them apart, the pygmy nuthatch is very shy.

Next among our regulars are the Northern Cardinals. The males are a little larger and much brighter than the females. The males are a rosy red color and the females are mostly brown with a faint reddish hue. They are much larger than the Chickadees and the nuthatches, which allows them to be possessive of the bird feeder when they are present. The Northern Cardinals mate for life, so we have several mated pairs who come to visit. Last spring we got to see them feed their young. It was really cute.

We also occasionally have gold finches and house finches, though I think they are migratory since we don't see them very often. They grab what they can and disappear. We also have a single woodpecker who hangs around on the trees behind the apartment. She only comes up to the porch when there is suet out, and since it's getting colder, we've put the suet out so they birds can fatten up.

Last but not least, we have mourning doves. I thought we only had four mourning doves, but apparently only four come up on the porch. The seed has attracted nearly a dozen mourning doves who wander around on the ground below the porch, eating the seed that the nuthatches through away. They are the hubby's favorite bird, but I think they are a little less intelligent than the other birds we have visiting. They are rather adorable though, with their clumsiness and their head bobbing.

These birdies are my simple pleasure down here. When I feel helpless or hopeless, I look out and watch these little creatures go about their day, eating seed and interacting with each other like there isn't another care in the world. It isn't the end of the world to them if I don't have a job or the apartment is messy. And as hard as it is to remember sometimes, this will all work out for the best. Watching the birds is my escape, however brief, from the frustrations of everyday life. We must all remember to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, whatever they may be. So I will go on laughing at the antics of my little birdies and enjoying the subtle humor of Gene Roddenberry, and, for a brief moment, forget my frustrations and cares, until the sound of my computer dying brings me back to this harsh reality.


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