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Bird nerd

I’ve always been a bit of a nerd. But it wasn’t until recently that I learned I’m not just any kind of nerd… I’m a bird nerd.

Yes, the woman whose only prior experience with birds involved those rats with wings they call pigeons in Boston, is now a full blown, hopelessly besotted backyard bird nerd.

Since moving to Sarasota, Florida after my divorce several years ago, I’ve developed an inordinate fondness for my backyard visitors. I feed them, scrub their birdbath, obsessively identify and catalog what birds come when. If that’s not nerdy enough for you, get this: I worry about them too.

A gorgeous Brown Thrasher has been visiting my back yard for over a year. He rarely eats the seed, but he’s wild about the birdbath — his bath-time theatrics create water works worthy of the fountains at Versailles.

But what worries me about Mr. Thrasher (yes, my backyard birds have names – yet another sign of my descent into bird nerdism) is that he’s always alone. Never has a mate. He just thrashes about madly through the grass, and no wonder — he’s probably romantically frustrated!

I worry about my cardinals too – Monsieur et Madame le Cardinal. I see Monsieur all the time, but Madame goes long periods where she doesn’t make a showing. I keep expecting to see Les Enfants Cardinals, but so far no sign.

My favorite – no big surprise here – is the Gray Catbird. He’s a solitary one, as well. And like Mr. Thrasher, he loves his bath, though he’s considerably less dramatic when he takes a dip.

Speaking of cats. I’m absolutely beset with neighborhood cats who wander in and out of my yard at will, with horrendous catfights at night and bloodthirsty bird hunting by day.

I’m on a mission to scare at least eight lives out of every free-roaming cat within five miles. And believe me, the early morning sight of yours truly, in mismatched pajamas, Medusa-like bedhead hair flying, wildly wielding a broom, cursing (in French, of course) to chase away the fiendish felines – well, let’s just say it’s really no wonder the neighbors don’t invite me to their barbeques.

Unloading groceries recently — three huge bags of different types of bird seed, and a single can of coffee — it occurred to me that these winged buggers are eating me out of house and home while I’m living on caffeine! I’m a sucker, I know.

In fact, I’m pretty sure they’ve got a signpost somewhere up there in the avian airways proclaiming: “Straight below, MC’s House of Never-ending Bird Seed.”

The past several weeks have found me sitting in the proverbial catbird seat, as a flood of birds, winging their way back north, stop for a few days’ rest at MC’s Bird & Breakfast.

I’ve been inundated with Indigo Buntings. Adorable, but feisty, they snip and snipe and chase off the mousier wrens. One morning I saw Monsieur le Cardinal, grandly red with his top hat and stout chest, standing in the center of the flat feeder, surrounded by a bevy of brilliant blue buntings, looking for all the world like a royal king with a cadre of loyal soldiers at his feet.

Before that, it was scores of robins blanketing my lawn. They tried to squeeze so many of their birdy brethren into the birdbath; you would have thought it was the springs of Lourdes.

Even though I’m supposed to be slaving away at the computer, I’m often drawn to the window and have recently spotted a stunning Scarlet Tanager, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak, an irritatingly large number of European Starlings, and my favorite newcomers – a pair of demure House Finches.

Can’t forget my year-round residents, the Jays and Mockingbirds. The Jays screech and sing for their supper, and the Mockingbird parents give me lessons in how to fight off foreign invaders (I’ve seen them dive-bomb a hawk) and dance through the grass with abandon.

And, miracle of miracles, just two days ago, Mr. Thrasher finally showed up with a Mrs.

Hey, if a bath-loving, slightly crazy loner like Mr. Thrasher can find a mate, then maybe there’s hope for this bird nerd yet.

Posted on May 25th, 2007Comments RSS Feed

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