Flickr Creative Commons user Rick Leche
When the sparrows and grackles move elsewhere for a while, grackles, cardinals, titmice, chickadees, wrens, blue jays, doves and nuthatches take their turns.
Sometimes I make notes about which birds I hear singing and which birds come when and how they act: the sparrows, like starlings, bound tightly to the motions of the flock; the acrobatic chickadees swooping in and out, staying only seconds to grasp their sunflower seed and fly off; the wary, fluttering titmice, the males calling through the mornings; the blue jays, harsh and bullying; the hopping, syncopated nuthatches, exploring upside down; the heavy, pushy, long-billed starlings and grackles; the slow and clumsy doves; the cautious cardinals feeding in the twilight; the crows that never land here but are present with their calls before dawn.
I watch them all without understanding what is really happening, or why they are acting the way they do. I do not follow a birder's schedule, have lost my life list, know only with glimpses, know with parts instead of wholes.
But watching birds, I watch my feelings. I can see that there is an emptiness inside me without the birds, a completeness and odd security in the presence of the birds. When I forget to feed them, they withhold their consolation. Bribed with seed and suet for their company, they offer comfort and reassurance.
Next week on Poor Will's Almanack: notes for the third week of middle spring. In the meantime, bribe the birds. Feel good.