birding: confirmed signs of spring

Sometime during the kids’ morning of studies, I spend a handful of minutes listening to the birds outside. I am surrounded by Kootenay Mountains: Douglas fir, pine and cedar. The red maple certainly will find a robin’s nest in the spring. And the grape arbor too. Right outside my living room window is a post where robins routinely lay their nestlings throughout the spring and summer, a perfect view to watch new life crack into the world.

I remember sitting with my Grandpa outside his mountain home and watching the feeder with him. He’d whistle his song as convincing as the birds. The hummingbirds would arrive, if only for a moment. A strange preoccupation he had, watching and feeding birds, I thought as a young girl.

I’d never imagined I’d take a fascination in this world.

I attempt a sparrow’s song with the pursing of my lips. It might sound convincing to a city person, but not the sparrows. My grandpa could certainly outwhistle me.

What convinces them to sing, I’ve found, are when I pull a weed close enough to their new baby, a robin snug in the arbor of a grapevine. Sing, or attack? I didn’t get hurt, but it frightened me enough not to do it again.

They sing when I’ve filled the feeder tied into the red maple tree. When I string dried sunflower heads around another arbor. Or when day breaks, at 4 am, when day has not broken for me, but REM still holds me locked in my dreams — I hear an assortment of whistles beckoning me up.

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tunes without the words and never stops at all.” Emily Dickinson