Beyond the ordinary

(Setting: near a large horizontal window at a gala)

Both stood and watched the window like a screen.

Birds flew by to Chopin’s salon-friendly Nocturnes.

The woman, holding champagne, smiled and beamed.

Her burgeoning beau was charmed and stood close.

They were having a Hollywood moment!

The birds, like fish in a bowl, circled in groups,

rose like ocean waves then dipped back down

and raced fiercely across the manicured landscape.

The man and woman looked into each other’s eyes,

smiled warmly and returned their gaze to the window.

A jealous suitor sat in the background, transfixed.

For him, Chopin’s piano music had stopped,

for he was attuned to the alarm of the birds.

He was witnessing something beyond ordinary.

Past middle age

I did not know: The Bird Man is a motorcyclist!

Each day in his yard, pouring out fresh water for his feathered visitors, he hobbles to complete this daily task. And now, here he is, in usual T-shirt and sagging, beat-up denim, perched on the seat of a Harley — its engine choking and rumbling on a cool September morning.

It all makes sense, too — his hobble and the Harley and everything else. It all dovetails seamlessly.

Fly, Bird Man, fly,! For the migration season is upon us!

Thoughts on stewardship

Nature can perhaps be thought of as a living thing that is part of our household and family, such as a cat or a dog, meaning that it trusts that we will care for it. And when we do not, this can be seen as betrayal and negligence. I could not fathom forgetting to feed my cat or to give her water and also to otherwise make sure she stays well. Same goes for the people around us. To a degree, they perhaps hope and expect we may act in their best interest, or at least not knowingly cause them harm. At best, we can help all life forms around us thrive, including ourselves.

A cypress’ second life (plus a fun finch fact)

There’s a dead cypress tree in our backyard — a diminished-looking thing that one might otherwise consider an eyesore if it were not for the fact that it attracts birds like a magnet.

A couple of months ago, I spotted a northern flicker perched on one of the parched branches — pretty exciting, considering this is a species I typically spot only when I am up in the higher elevations of nearby Mount Charleston.

Regardless, the primary visitor to the tree for the past few weeks has been the house finch. The males are more interesting to look at due to their auburn flourishes, while the females are drab with their washed-out white and brownish hues.

Still, one interesting aspect of the females I’ve noticed lately through observation is how they throw themselves at the males. It’s funny: Several will gather around a sole male on a branch and make a fuss over it, often ending in unrequited admiration, with the male abruptly fleeing the scene. Continue reading

Mini mockingbirds

Perch Report – Spring Valley, Nev.

It’s no biggie to see Northern mockingbirds since they’re so common in Southern Nevada, but over the past few days, I’ve had the pleasure of watching an adult feed its three fledglings in my yard.

It has been tirelessly zipping around each day in the hopes of finding insects to pluck from the soil or from flight and place into the beaks of its young. Meanwhile, as they await their food, the juveniles struggle to keep their balance while perching on palm fronds and twigs, often flapping their wings and shuffling their feet as if newbie skaters on an ice rink. Continue reading

Starlings make an appearance

European starlings have been harvesting the trove of black olives that grow in batches on nearly every branch of the tree out back.

Normally, the olives merely fall to the ground and rot, so it’s nice to see the birds using them for sustenance. They take them and fly to the ground, where they shake them violently in their beaks until they split into bite-sized chunks.

The starlings’ plumage is iridescent and more or less echoes the color of the olives. Their dark feathers are offset by a caramel trim along their outer wings, with their bodies speckled in earth tones as if by an artist’s brush. Continue reading

A Study of Orange

She had a bright yellow pen and a fat hardcover book with a lime green dust jacket.

Her yoga pants were red like pomegranate, and her spa socks were slate. Her black and white cat played with a ribbon that was thick as Asian flat noodle. Her coffee was black and sat just so. It filled an espresso cup the color of steak bone.

Soon she would be eating a banana that matched her pen, but she was unsure she liked the color. The pens also came in a very citrusy orange that made her heart skip. Continue reading

Bird Man

The Bird Man is on the move. He’s wearing a sweat jacket and a ball cap because it’s cold. It’s 38 degrees this morning, and typically, such as during summer, the Bird Man will wear only an old white T-shirt that you and I might demote to rag status, as well as jeans that no longer can stay put around his pot belly.

Today the Bird Man looks more dressed up than usual due to his navy blue jacket. It seems to be in fine condition and looks warm.

The Bird Man is removing the rocks from the small plastic Tupperware lining his cement wall like battlements. He is emptying the backwash and refilling the vessels with a cheap plastic pitcher of water. Continue reading