The (Almost) Daily Dose: The Birdman of Spanish Hills

My husband's love for birds shows a sweetness that melts me more than a little bit

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My husband’s love for, and dedication to, birds is inspirational. He has identified more than 30 species that come to our feeder. He counts them and makes notes in a little book. There is always a pair of binoculars at the ready in case we spot a new species or some other airborne excitement. Sometimes we just sit and watch in silence. Sometimes we sit together looking straight ahead and talking while we stare, kind of like two people in a New Yorker cartoon.

We have a resident owl, and a couple of hawks who seem to revisit (we named one Joe, for a dear friend because we miss him so and we hope he’s come back to spend time with us). There are the northern flickers who look to me to have orange bow ties. The cooing doves, the bullying magpies, the vibrant (yes, bright yellow against all this white) goldfinches. I love the chickadees and in summer the hummingbirds offer sustained, frenetic delight. They are a neurotic-seeming breed so I feel great kinship. 

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My husband has given me this gift and his tireless dedication shows a sweetness that melts me more than a little bit. He is insistent that birds are capable of fun, the subject generally comes up when we’re observing a hawk drafting in the wind. It’s hard to argue that. Lately we have noticed a couple of towhees who seem to like our front porch. I do feel like they want their own special attention and I am tickled by it. As is Scott.

He knows that I am writing about birds and asks “Do you want a quote from me?” Without waiting for an answer he goes back into his office and emails me this, “We go through more than 50 pounds of premium shelled sunflower pieces each month, the caviar of seed. I’m pretty sure we’ve improved the local ecology at least for the house finches and goldfinches, who eat like mad during nesting and chick-raising season. They raise two or even three broods a year, so I think we’re helping the population grow! When the chicks can fly, the parents bring them to the railing and feed them sunflower seeds.”

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I will spend some time on our couch watching the traffic jam at the feeder. The crowd always comes with snow. Always when I watch, I feel like I’m living a Mary Oliver poem.

So I will share with you, a favorite:

Snow Geese by Mary Oliver

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Categories: On Location