If we could all be chickadees, we’d all be skinny and plum tuckered out.
There’s a pair of chickadees going in and out of the bluebird house. Apparently they didn’t know it was a bluebird house, so they moved in and soon after followed little chickadees. The bluebird house hangs on a utility pole, which I don’t think you’re supposed to do, but the utility people have been nice about it.
The chickadees are in a feverish attempt to keep their brood fed. Close to the box you can hear little baby bird sounds, not quite “peeps” yet. Every now and then both parents squeeze into the box but not for long. One pops out and off it goes, returning with some small bit of something in its beak. I’m wondering when and where the bird parents, like all new parents, ever sleep?
Firewood is stacked against the utility pole, and since this winter was a mild one there’s plenty of it. Fortunately, Sam moved the wood to the opposite side of the bluebird house — the one housing the chickadees — so that the cats won’t climb up the woodpile and peer into the hole of the bird box. It must be a very frightening event for baby chickadees to see a cat eye peering in. Our cats don’t seem to be able to climb utility poles.
At the suggestion of some birder friends, Ruth and Greg, we purchased “The Sibley Guide to Birds.” It’s supposed to be a better bird book than the one we had. Sibley’s shows seven different kinds of chickadees. There is only one species that is shaded in for our area, so I’m going to say that our chickadee is a Carolina chickadee.
The book says the Carolina chickadee sings, “see bee see bay.” But right now our chickadees are doing nothing but feeding their young, so they are not singing at all. It also says they call “chikadeedeedeedee,” at a high pitch, with five to seven “dee” notes. I bet they sing that one when they see a cat climbing up the woodpile.
There’s a Mexican chickadee that looks a lot like ours, but he says, “peeta peeta peeta” and prefers mountain pine forests to bluebird houses on Prairie utility poles.
The birds are shown in a variety of stages: “adult,” “worn adult,” a “fresh adult,” and a “brighter fresh adult.” Can we not all relate to that terminology?
I found one paragraph written by David Allen Sibley that shares a broader bit of world wisdom and reads like pure poetry:
“There is order in the universe, and birds are no exception. All the minutiae of variation (appearance, behavior, occurrence, etc.) fit into predictable patterns, and as you gain experience these patterns coalesce into a framework of knowledge.”
“tzee tzee tzee shhhh shhhh didididididi,” calls the chickadee.
Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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