Birdwatching


Yesterday was for the birds.

It started with the ducks. They buzzed our second story window and we commented on their quacking. It was the second day in a row of their buzzing and their quacking, so the incident proved worthy of acknowledgement. Our home, I surmised, must lie directly along their migratory route—though they were, upon reflection, flying south, which would not correlate with their natural inclination this time of year. In any case, a pattern noticed is worth recognizing if not for its scientific edification, then for the very least, its charm.

I went for a run soon after. Two pigeons caught my eye, at ease upon a taut electric wire, causing me to shift my path from sidewalk to gutter, lest droppings mar my shoulders. My run had only just begun, and I rather preferred running without avian graffiti.

Later still, a walk with my sweetheart. Pausing on a bridge to catch water trickling through a thirsty creek, we spotted a lone hummingbird hovering above a pad of grass and land lilies, gracing itself a brief respite from its relentless quest for nectar. Apparently we proved as equally striking to the most delicate of birds—it paid us a gaze before zipping away, too fast for the eye to follow.

Three crows we encountered, further along. Their convention over, they no longer congregated in murder, but rather set about their individual goals. The first hopped among the thick branches of an oak, wary of our passing. The second flew a freshly caught worm to a patch of crab grass and devoured it. The third, I swear, thought itself to be a hawk. But perhaps that was only because I thought it was a hawk at first. People are not birds, after all. People misinterpret. People project. But birds encounter things as they are.

Without finding an unoccupied table at our park of destination, we cycled back home and unpacked our salads on our own patio out front. More birds. A little brown bird, soft and bouncy, chirped and pecked the soil near a garden statue, bestowing me with happiness. A woodpecker, dislodging bugs from the tallest palm, bugs that we otherwise never realized were there. Two bluebirds found each other, over and over again, as they flitted among the bushes. At last, they nuzzled beneath each other's wings, a flurry of touching beaks and feathers, two lovers on a wire.

But there I go, projecting. Two lovers on a wire. So be it.

Those birds taught me something. They taught me to encounter things as they are. To appreciate things as they are.

Yesterday was for the birds.

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