November 1, 2023 at 12:20 a.m.
Editor’s note: This column is being reprinted from Nov. 3, 2004. After last week’s editor’s note of surprise that more birds were not involved in Jack’s afternoon locked out of the house, it seemed only appropriate that this bird-themed column would follow.
“I feel like I’m in a zoo,” I told my wife over a bowl of soup.
It was Monday, and November had landed with an audible thud.
Gone were the crisp blue skies of October. Gone too were most of the autumn leaves, stripped from their branches by Saturday’s gusty winds.
Instead, the sky was the color of lead.
Rain was in the forecast.
And the temperature had dropped.
The only thing to look forward to was Tuesday’s election. And the only incontestably good thing about that was that the campaign would be over.
In other words, I was in a pretty glum mood, one that matched the November day outside.
Then the birds arrived.
Connie had filled the backyard feeders over the weekend. A cylindrical one hanging from a stick attached to the garage held small black sunflower seeds. Two others on posts held a typical wild birdseed mix. And a fourth hanging from a redbud branch held thistle seed.
First a couple, then a couple more, then a dozen more finches — purple finches and house finches — swooped down for what must have been lunch.
While the two of us watched from the kitchen table, the scene outdoors became busier and busier.
A pair of cardinals, both female, picked through seeds dropped at the foot of one of the feeding stations.
A nuthatch — at least one — zipped down like a daredevil to grab a spot at the sunflower station.
Sparrows and juncos appeared.
“How many do you think there are?” I asked, trying to count as the miniature air show continued.
“Birds?” said my wife. “Or squirrels?”
Sure enough, the backyard mammals had decided to get into the act.
A pair of fox squirrels scrambled through a maze of redbud branches, while a pair of gray squirrels chased each other around the trunk of an ash tree.
“I feel like I’m in a zoo,” I said, glad that I was referring to the backyard wildlife display and not the election year.
It was still November. There was still mud flying everywhere in the final countdown to Tuesday’s vote.
But as I headed back to work there was a little spring in my step. Thanks to the birds.
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