For a moment
“I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.” — Henry David Thoreau
Not long ago Jeff called me to the front door to show me a robin’s nest in the cherry blossom branch that extends over our front walkway. It was fairly low, only a few feet from where we pass back and forth underneath many times each day, but the bird nesting there seems unafraid of us or our activity. I suppose suburban birds grow accustomed to human traffic.
I’ve been watching this nest for several days now. It’s set where I can’t get a good photo of it, because the sunlight is always coming into the lens and putting the rest of the picture in the shade, and my little semi-automatic camera doesn’t have the range to compensate for it very well. That’s okay, though, because the important thing is to enjoy seeing the nest with my eyes, while it’s still an active home. I’ve learned from our York “bird condo” (which is what I call the privet hedge where the robins and cardinals like to nest) that these little ones go from egg to hatchling to fledgling surprisingly quickly.
I’ve seen the mama bird (and maybe the papa bird too) standing on the edge of this nest feeding worms to the babies, so I know they have hatched. Since I can’t see inside the nest, I watch daily to see if it’s still attended, just so I’ll know if the babies are still there. I like having the birds making their home so close to ours. It feels friendly and, as Thoreau expressed, it’s also a bit flattering in some strange way.
If it wasn’t for Jeff, I probably would never have noticed the nest at all. Jeff has a sort of radar for the natural world, spotting deer and birds and other critters with an eagle’s eye, though he has a more benevolent interest in them than the raptors do. It’s nice to live with someone who can point such things out to me, because I am always excited to see them, even though I’m not good at noticing on my own.
How about you? Do you have an eye for the natural world? If not, are you lucky enough to have someone around who can act as a scout for you? If you have this type of radar for nature, do you share your observations with others? Some of us are better at seeing than others, but I think most of us do care for animals (and people) when we slow down enough to notice — or when someone else points the way for us.
And sometimes, as with Thoreau, we have the happy experience of having a creature notice us first, and seemingly ask outright for our attention. Such encounters are doubly delightful, and I wish you many of them, along with the eyes and heart to enjoy them.
And speaking of robins…look what Alys gave me! Enjoy their lovely song here: