A solo quail visits my bird feeder each morning for the past 2 weeks. His small, black topknot along with his mottled feathers tells me he is a juvenile. He is an orphan but surprisingly, adopted by a family of mourning doves and while they feed alongside him, I notice their symmetry; they have been family for a while. They peck through the food while he scratches to source his choice. I have been captivated by him as he is newest sighting within the everchanging landscape of feathered friends.
My love of birds has developed over the last several years. It became a passion during Covid. With my side patio as my favorite sit spot, I have the perfect bird view. The wispy birch rests in front of me and the towering sycamore is to my side. Our feeder hangs in the peach tree adjacent to this.
While my love of nature did not always include them, I somehow knew that I was destined for birding. I pictured myself as a senior traveling to remote places checking sightings off a list- what could be more rewarding than that? What I have found is that exploring a tiny piece of their world from my own backyard has given me so much more than I imagined. Their eager chatter is the perfect accompaniment to my morning coffee and their quiet reflection of the day, resting in front of the sitting sun, aligns with mine.
I have been witness to miraculous upbringings from great horned owls to house finches. I have woken up to mockingbird songs for weeks at a time and have enjoyed quick glimpses of cedar waxwings in our apple tree and a coopers hawk swooping in for a field mouse. There have been spotted towhees and parrots and red shouldered hawks and orioles. Each time, I am in awe and grateful for their presence. This is my meditation. This is my calm.
While I have my favorites, they regrettably never stay long. I have come to know that the life of a birder is bittersweet with its lesson being impermanence. They have their seasons and I count myself lucky to appreciate them and get to know them, even if our time together is brief. I am merely a host of a stop on their path and I would never ask for more.