Thursday, November 15, 2012

Backyard bird symphony

The pulse and flow of birds coming to the feeder are like a symphony. Early on in the day, the House Sparrows emerge from their favorite shrub. One by one, they chime in. They build, and will be there throughout the piece, like the hard-working string section. Titmice swell in numbers. So do the Chickadees, who will be constant, too -- a frantic drumbeat of energy. Even when I'm running around the yard in my pyjamas chasing squirrels up the maple tree, they will doggedly cling to the feeder, dee-dee-deeing and eat-eat-eating. The Bluejays enter, a flash of cornflower blue to liven things up. A Downy Woodpecker hops around the maple, awaiting its cue. The White-breasted Nuthatches are always late. I don't know where they are at sunrise, but it is a couple of hours before their delicate tapping and soft scuttling and meeping join in with the rest of the orchestra. They are punctuated by the occasional Red-breasted Nuthatch for a bit of drama. I look forward to the sweet pause for a goldfinch to land and take a seed; it's like a gentle oboe solo. The Red-bellied Woodpecker is random, like a gong when you least expect it. And when everything falls still and I wonder why the players are taking a break, I look out, and there it is, like the ominous roll of the timpani: a raptor skirting low over the yard. The Cooper's Hawk, looking for an easy snack.