Home birds

2005 May 30
by David J. Ringer

GREENE CO., MO. — Today was a simple day. Robins sang cheerily, incessantly. Titmice, chickadees, gnatcatchers, grackles, and swifts came and went. Downy Woodpeckers piped softly in the woods, and a flicker yelped once or twice.

I found a robin’s egg while planting new acquisitions in the northeast bed. It had fallen without breaking, and I left it where it lay.


I thought with a little sadness of the robin that would never sing.

Chipping Sparrows trilled forcefully. The bluebirds have another clutch of eggs.

I photographed hummingbirds before dinner. Their tiny wings whirred near my ears. They squeaked and tittered and scolded each other. They hovered still, they flew up and backward and in great arcs. Only one male came. Eighteen inches before my eyes, his throat glittered green-gold then went black. He zipped up, out, and back, and then he gleamed like a firelit ruby.


The hummers trusted me enough to land and drink — so long as I was absolutely still.


The slightest change in light reveals new colors.


Here, the bird’s tongue is barely visible as a translucent thread reaching down into the sugar water.

Toward sunset, I drove to Truman Elementary School to watch the nighthawks. I wasn’t disappointed. They flopped erratically over the parking lot and fields, sometimes gliding, sometimes fluttering. There were scissor-tails, too, and kingbirds.

Scattered clouds clung pearl-blue-gray, and the west glowed.

I drove home and sat down in the driveway. Fireflies flashed green — tiny creatures, living their lives, producing light inside their bodies, all to survive, and they don’t even know. What a mystery.

Pewees whistled as darkness fell, and then the bats skimmed across the sky.

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