As I have been learning more and more about the local wild birds, I’ve fallen in love with the smaller birds: nuthatches, juncos, chickadees, etc. But I also love the Cooper’s Hawk that lives in the area, and in the process of falling in love with both prey and predator, I find myself in an odd emotional space.
I had a very interesting experience on the labyrinth a few days ago. I was walking my three revolutions as is my wont these days, and as I was heading out of the heart space the final time, Ryder, our largest cat, joined me and asked to get up on my shoulders. He got his name because he will ride on your shoulders like a stoll. Anyway, in the past, he’s only wanted to stay on for one spiral, usually the Crone, but this time, he stayed on through the Crone, the Mother and most of the Maiden spirals. He hopped off at the transition in the center of that last spiral. I continued on out and stood under the arch, just breathing in the air and enjoying the peaceful, calm feeling, when I heard a small scritch, scritch sound above me.
Looking up, I saw, about 7 feet off the ground, a Red-breasted Nuthatch was perched, hanging upside down on the redwood tree. No alarm calls, which surprised me partly because I was there, but mostly because Ryder was there, clearly in plain sight at the bottom of the tree in pounce-mode. I looked down and him and gestured for him to stay down (silly, I know), and then looked up at the bird on the tree just as he jumped up SEVEN FEET to where the bird was before it flew to safety.
Several things ran through my mind. First, why didn’t the bird (and its friend who was about a foot above it on the tree) make any sounds, and second, holy cow! I had no idea Ryder could jump that high! I reached for my camera to take a picture of this cat spread-eagle on the tree two feet above my head, but he came down before I could get it focused.
And then I started thinking about predators and prey. And how they’re all a part of this existence. I love the cats, the birds, the mice, the lizards and snakes and fish, the deer and coyote and mountain lion who wander through my yard, the raccoons, the rats, etc. I’m sure that there are other more shy animals who have been watching me for years, that I haven’t tracked yet, but I’m seeing more and more everyday
Last week, one of my favorite tracking experts came and sat with me behind the labyrinth, in full view of a hose bib that I like to leave on. It leaks around the area where the hose attaches and the small birds love using this to get drinks. It’s close to the bushes, so they’ve got a safe place to be before flying down to take a sip. While we were there, we watched first the chickadees (cheeky little devils!) come to drink, then juncos, and lesser goldfinches, red-breasted nuthatches and then my Pygmy Nuthatches. It was so much fun to sit and watch them all as they took turns. For the most part, it was one species at a time. Three birds could fit on the hose bib, drinking. So the chickadees would fly in, then the juncos, and on down the line.
At that point, Tiffany and I got in a conversation about the birds, and stopped paying as much attention, and then for some reason I looked up, and there was a female lesser goldfinch on the top of the hose bib, with two other birds below her! It was startling! And funny, that now I can’t remember what the other birds were. It might have been two of my beloved pygmy nuthatches, or maybe two juncos, but whatever they were, it was fun to see the two types of birds hanging out together.
All in all, it was a lovely experience, sitting quietly with a fellow bird enthusiast, drinking in the sights and sounds that are available in my backyard. I’m so happy I created the time and connections to have such an experience. What sorts of experiences are you creating for yourself?