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Feathers Ruffled by a Pair of Birds
One evening, when they were teens, my daughter and son went to the Ventura Townhouse to visit an elderly woman they had befriended through Caregivers’ Building Bridges Program for local high school students.
Sharing the elevator with them while going up to Jewell’s room was another resident.
“I like your broach,” my daughter said, complimenting the bejeweled bird the woman was wearing.
In a voice filled with as much enthusiasm, and volume, as a kindergartener announcing, “I like ice cream!” the woman replied: “I like birds!”
As do I.
Indeed, I like to listen to their morning songs when I first awaken. I like to spy them outside my window as I write during the day. And I like to watch them soar in flight, especially at the beach floating on an updraft like a kite, no wing flapping required.
Sadly, I saw the opposite occur last week. A bird fell from the sky and crash landed in my backyard.
Actually, I did not see it happen – I heard it.
Never before had I heard this specific sound, yet I instantly knew what had happened. Our home has a large picture window on the second story. Unadorned, it faces eastward and a bird flying westward had flown blindly into it like a Windex commercial brought to life.
Hurrying outside, I found a bird lying on the grass directly below the window. I knelt and looked for signs of life, but saw none.
Funny, but my next thought was remembering a cartoon from The New Yorker magazine, although it was not humorous at this moment. A bird in heaven asks a winged angel: “You run into a window, too?”
As I said, I like birds – but I am no birder. My uneducated identification was of a common sparrow. Common or not, its fate saddened me greatly as I went to get a small gardening trowel to bury it.
When I returned, however, my heart soared for the bird had apparently done likewise. It was gone, the only explanation being it had suffered a bruised beak and been knocked briefly unconscious.
Meanwhile, another bird story has been turning its pages at my house. For the past month or so, every time I have taken out the trash to the garbage cans at the side of our house, a bird has appeared out of thin air like a dove from of a magician’s hat.
In truth, the bird appears out of the thick ivy growing on a brick wall opposite the garbage cans.
Again, I am only guessing that this is also a common house sparrow – scientific name Passer domesticus. However, even an expert would have difficulty making an accurate identification of this blur flying past his ear.
The first few times this Hitchcock-ian attack happened, the Blurry domesticus made me jump out of my clothes. Eventually, I remembered to expect the feathery flyby and tried sneaking past the bird’s hidden nest. To no avail. It still flushed from cover, its natural instinct being to draw approaching prey away from its nest.
The very day after the other sparrow flew into the picture window, something more tragic happened. When I took out the trash, this bird bolted and somehow the nest was dislodged and fell out of the ivy onto the cement walkway.
Worse, there were eggs in the nest. Four, upon closer inspection. Happily, upon even closer scrutiny, none appeared broken.
And yet the unscrambled eggs were of small consolation because I remember as a kid learning that if a person touches a bird’s nest the mother bird will never return.
If this is indeed true, I now hoped that perhaps the desertion is due to human scent left behind. I put on gardening gloves and carefully tucked the nest back into the ivy.
Then I hoped against hope for the best because I not only like birds, I have come to especially like this bird.
The best happened. The next time I took out the kitchen trash my feathers were happily ruffled.
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Woody Woodburn writes a weekly column for The Ventura County Star and can be contacted at WoodyWriter@gmail.com.
Check out my memoir WOODEN & ME: Life Lessons from My Two-Decade Friendship with the Legendary Coach and Humanitarian to Help “Make Each Day Your Masterpiece” and my essay collection “Strawberries in Wintertime: Essays on Life, Love, and Laughter” …
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