Thursday, January 17, 2008


I could be a good Buddhist. I generally love all living creatures, even some of the more slimy and creepy ones. A notable exception is the spider; they can do what they want outside but get near me inside.... we have a problem.

My favorite creature of the wild are the birds. Birds are so fun. Besides bettering us in the ability to fly and challenging us to finally conquer the air, they are usually attractive. Reds, blues, deep purple-blacks, soft gray, most slim and sleek and usually on the cute side, not like a spider. Their songs brighten the most dreary of day and lighten any dark mood. How can one be sad when the birds are singing?

Even the smallest of these remarkable beings are hardy and vigorous. When I have traveled to Nicaragua in the winter, my poolside lounging is accompanied by the warbles and twitters of the sparrows, wrens and finches that have made the same journey as I, but on their own power and with out a map. As well the largest of the species possess a majesty unmatched by most mammals. Soaring hawks, eagles and condors evoke the spirit of freedom and never cease to arouse awe and admiration.

Soaring eagles did not inspire this post, rather it was the antics of a few of our more mundane backyard feathered friends.

A frosty windy morning dawned on Kansas City last week. Strong north winds blew arctic cooled air, freezing all in its plunge south. The sun was bright and thus on the protected south side of the towers, a flock of doves, too numerous to count had taken refuge on every ledge of the building. Tiny gray bundles of feathers huddled in groups of 3 and 4, basking in the sun and protected from the icy blast on the north. A few flew here and about, but most stayed, softly cooing and waiting out the frigid storm. Smart little guys they, like most animals, have the ability to find the warmest spots. I can only hope they brought their well known ability to foster peace to the towers, embroiled in controversy as always.

A few days later, I noted a bright red male cardinal sitting on the rearview mirror of the pick up truck of one of the construction guys. He was fluttering and flying back and forth, pecking at the mirror and at the window of Chris' car. Chirping wildly, I could imagine he was fighting off the imagined invader of his territory, battling his own reflection.

A couple of days later, he was back at it. It dawned on me that I had only seen this bird do this when Chris' truck was parked there. Other cars park along the street and have mirrors but the bird seems to like his truck.

"Chris, do you keep birdseed or something in your truck?", I asked upon seeing Mr. Cardinal pecking wildly at the car window. "No, but that damn cardinal thinks so. He comes every day I park. I am barely out of the car and he flies over from the tree and starts pecking at the window. He must be nuts".

Chris is not here today. But Mr. Cardinal was spied in the magnolia tree waiting patiently.

Birdbrained? Or is he smarter than the rest of us?

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