A Glimpse at Noll's Life List

My Own is a birder. We share this interest. Nonetheless, as I am travel-challenged, her list is more extensive than mine. My Own has seen the red crested cardinal in Oahu, the American bald eagle in Alaska and the roseate spoonbill of Sanibel Island.

La-di-da! I say. Personally, I would rather “feel” the bird than “see” the bird. But that is another subject.

Close to home, our life lists are the same.
We have seen a flock of horned lark one cold, dismal winter when fields were long blanketed. For once and only, this coy little flock ventured close to seat and feeder. It was a magical sighting!

One fall, a bird as big as brother Tiggy stumbled upon our deck. A rarefied moment where 'crazed' does not begin to describe our cat emotions! My Own frantically thumbed the blue bird book. “Chukar” came for several weeks; then vanished. Likewise, the pheasant that crossed the road using the drain pipe for safe passage.

Each summer, the red-bellied woodpecker and flicker feed reliably on suet cakes; the ruby-throated hummingbird, in an endless loop, stops at the feeders every few minutes. When heads form on catnip, goldfinches ride the tops back and forth as they peck out the seeds. Sparrows of every sport – white capped, song, house, chipping, pore out of the landscape. Finches hide in the bittersweet. Mourning doves coo from the eaves. Mockingbirds do impersonations.

Heralded by red-winged blackbirds, spring arrives and birds take up residence in the most unlikely of places: a house wren’s dwelling in a grocery bag, or a barn swallow’s nest assigned with perfect engineering sense, mud and straw over the spotlights. Nestled in trees and bushes, birds blossom, their perfect homes hidden until autumn's passing.

Only then did My Own find the tiny nest lined with the blond hairs of Clyde, our departed canine friend. It is a treasured relic. Clever things these birds to make nest and memory in one fell swoop!

Swoop! The very word reminds me why birding is a favorite pastime.