Tag Archives: birds

Feed Me

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.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch. Bob Hines, United States Fish and Wildlife Service. 1974.

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 soon 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.

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Eight-and-a-half Innings

We took three of the children to an Indianapolis Indians baseball game on Monday. The kids payed little attention to the game. (Hot dogs, cracker jacks, popcorn, and peanuts were on the dollar menu.) It was the second Indians game and probably the fifth or sixth professional game I’ve attended. Back in the very late 70s I saw the Cincinnati Reds play the Montreal Expos in Cincinnati. I remember the van ride, the seats (third base), and hoping for a foul ball. I think Tony Perez was playing. I liked his card.

I almost remember attending a minor league game in Louisville, but in any case, I took a long, uninterested, aimless break from baseball. (I like athleticism and competition, but I am not much for fandom.) I did not see another game until I had my own, uninterested children in tow. Exemplifying the aimless disinterest, my most memorable experience sitting in a baseball stadium has little to do with baseball and much to do with a fondness for insects. I remember one night, nearly a decade ago, at a South Bend Silverhawks game. A lone praying mantis (Tenodera sinensis) rose over the seats and the stadium roof. She seemed huge in the evening light and summer heat. Tilting this way and that and hovering, at once a hulking, opportunistic predator and (had there been a bird nearby) easy prey.

At Monday’s game, I did not see any insects. I remembered the mantis, however, when a mourning dove flew up out of the right field bullpen. While the mantis seemed fragile, but dangerous, the dove appeared to be overweight and a poor flyer. It too flew over the stadium, flapping awkwardly to clear the double-deck seating. It would have been an easy target for one of the city’s pigeon-fed, pet falcons.

The Indians (a.k.a. the “Tribe”–the mascot is neither an Indian nor a Tribe, but Rowdie, a red bear with a baseball for a nose; Rowdie is probably a rodent pretending to be a bear) defeated the Columbus Clippers (they cut a lot of hair in Columbus) 5 to 3. Indianapolis had the lead at the end of the game, reducing game time to 8.5 innings. In their first, beginning-to-end baseball game, the kids were eager to leave in inning six … but we stuck it out.

Here are the all-important game stats: 8 hot dogs, 4 bags of peanuts, 4 boxes of popcorn, 3 boxes of cracker jacks, 3 beers, 2 usher redirects (the kids were standing at the wrong time), 1 bag of chips, and 1 mourning dove.

Gray

A view of downtown Indianapolis from I-70Gray days, but running.

Twice now, I have seen in the Catalpa tree, just off the Monon, between I-65 and I-70 (the “north split”), a Northern Mocking bird. In this season, he is singing at a volume above the nearby traffic. Two weeks ago, I saw (probably) the same bird on a fence bordering the nearby soccer fields. Then, when I stopped to listen, he flew a distance further away; now, he sings and preens with little notice. The bird is a mimic, maybe, but I sense little in the manner of scorn.

Bird sighting today

Bird sighting today — two mourning doves, having returned to the porch rail after a winter away. They are a kind of unsettled peace — they, who are not mourning and I who will not part with grief. The are, in this season, all bustle and preen and light with the air. Here in the city, where do they make their nest? It must be nearby and I — I am so far from home. (April 27, 2008)