In the last month, at least one small family of goldfinches has moved into the neighborhood. I hear them more often than I see them, but last week I found them feeding on the neighbor’s parched, but fully-seeded Echinacea plants. Two adults and two, completely fledged, adult-sized “chicks”. The adults were busy prying tiny morsels from the densely packed seed heads, but the minors fluttered on nearby stems, crying to be fed. When the adults saw me and took flight, their young followed, begging, airborne over the rooftops. No doubt, all this begging accounts for the fact that I have heard them more often than I have seen them.
Of all the creatures that rear their young, perhaps the birds are the most insistent at pestering for nourishment. Whining puppies are annoying and I’ve seen a few frustrated, tired, nurse mares, but most mammals satiate and move on. Humans whine for food more (and certainly across a greater number of years) than do most mammals. My nearly adult-sized adolescents are still begging. The “what’s for supper” questions begin as soon as we finish the school and work day. The finches, however, are nagged all day long: chick-wee, chick-wee, chick-wee … is so nearly: feed me, feed me, feed me …. I’ve never heard this ruckus in the winter. Sometime soon they must learn to feed themselves.
The coming winter will be both a burden and a season of rest.