When I returned to Whidbey Island, the land of amazing sunsets from my holiday on the Oregon Coast,there was no lovely little brown bird to greet me. Where was my friend of more than a year, the charming and enchanting Song Sparrow, Birdy Boy?
Around this time last year, a lot of the small birds disappeared from the feeders. They were gone, into the bushes and trees to complete their molt. I knew this would happen again, yet I felt sad. I missed my little bird friend.
About twenty-four hours after I returned, there he was. And….he was not alone. He and another sparrow, I am assuming the female, were in the bushes by the feeders and they were feeding other sparrows. OMG, he has a family. There were two or three young ones all pleading to be provided for. He greeted me with a short song and then the whole family disappeared into the shrubbery on the hillside.
I did not see them again for a week. Again, I worried, what if he is not coming back? What if our friendship is over? What if? What if? What if? Oh, the turmoil I put myself through. It is hard to see things leave, that one holds dear.
Sunday the family arrived at the house early. They fed at the feeders and on the ground. Birdy Boy took some time out to sing and talk to me in a nearby bush. As it was last year, he is now more distant. There is no more sitting on my legs or arms yet he comes close and chats and sings to me. Once again my heart is glad.
I know house sitting is a temporary affair. I am not sure where I will be next summer, but when I am here in Greenbank, WA I hope that my little friend will return and we will once again chat and visit like good friends do and I will feel joy.
Upon my arrival on Whidbey Island in June of 2022, Birdy Boy was there to greet me. At first, he was distant and curious. He would hop all around me and keep his distance. By the end of the second day, there he was, sitting on my legs, arms, and shoulders singing away. This year he has only progressed to my head once.
Since breeding season is over he has shown up with a female song sparrow. She is quiet (they don’t sing) and sits a distance away. I wonder if she is trying to figure out about this odd friendship Birdy Boy and I have developed.
You can click on the photo to enlarge it.
Our close friendship continued until this month. When mating season is over things change. Until yesterday the feeders were quiet. Many of the small birds were gone or infrequently visiting the yard. Last year when this happened I grieved for the loss of my birdy friend. I thought he had migrated. After five days he and many of the other small birds reappeared. They had gone to the bushes to molt. All these little birds lose all or most of their feathers one to two times per year.
I believe that Birdy Boy is once again preparing to molt. He is looking a bit disheveled. His feathers are out of sorts. He has a small bald spot on the top of his head. He spends more time in the shrubs. The little birds go there to molt. It creates a safe place for the birds while they are in a more vulnerable state.
Some days he does not show up. At times he comes but keeps his distance. The closeness of spring is gone. This happened last August as well. With the end of the spring and early summer, his habits change.
I reminded myself that this would happen again this year. Even knowing this I miss his presence. He is a central part of my Whidbey Island Experience. I think often about what brings me joy. This little song sparrow brings me joy right to the core of my heart.
Yesterday he appeared early in the day. I was excited to see him. He came to the deck and stood on the chair back and sang away. During the day when I would be outside, he returned. One time he came to my knee and settled in. I love when he quiets down and just hangs out with me. There is no singing, no chitting, we just sit there like long-time friends enjoying the silence and the view out over Puget Sound. After about twenty minutes he flew off into the bushes and that was it for the day. I was pleased he stayed as long as he did. He brings me comfort.
Friendships come in all sizes, shapes and species. I value this friendship as I do all of my friendships. I continue to learn a lot from this little bird. In the quiet of the moments with him, my heart opens up. It is OK to be patient and soft and quiet. It is also OK to be joyous and sing my song and it is fun to share that song with others. Friendships require trust and commitment. I am glad to have shared this with this sweet little brown bird.
Today I am thankful for friendships, trust, quiet, and my friendship with Birdy Boy.
I love nature. There is nothing more soothing to me than venturing out into the forests, beaches or deserts. I love nature. I am a birder and love watching all the wonderful birds I see when I am out with or without my camera. I love watching animals big and small. And, Oh the flowers. Nature keeps me happy and whole even when I don’t feel one hundred percent.
There are many different types of birds in Washington where I am currently residing. I have seen Black-Headed Grosbeaks, Western Tanagers, Rufous Hummingbirds, Northern Pintails (ducks), Gadwalls and so much more.
I failed to mention Eagles, because they are everywhere. I see them almost daily, in flight, on the beach, and in the trees. I even met one up close when I was looking at that tiny little spot way out in the water. I almost walked into it as it was sitting on the beach directly in front of me. Birding is fun here. Birding is fun everywhere.
There are moments in my life, in your life, when magic happens in nature. If it is large enough we see it and delight in it. Some magic moments are more frightening and overwhelming. If we live through it, we will grow and become more confident and strong. Some moments are quiet and small with great impact.
Approximately two weeks ago I was sitting on the deck when I heard the most beautiful bird song. I pulled out my bird app and was finally able to deduce that it was a song sparrow. On my app, there is a section that lets one hear how the bird sounds. I played it and sure enough, it was a song sparrow. When this little guy heard the sound he flew to the deck and warbled away.
I have ceased playing the sounds yet he comes and finds me several times a day and sings his tune. If I am inside he stands on the back of the deck chairs and looks in and sings. If I move to the other side of the yard he finds me. He has sat on my feet and knees and arms, shoulders and head. I think he is in serious like with me.
I have learned a bit about song sparrows. They can sing at least twenty-four different songs and produce variations of the songs. They often will learn songs of neighboring birds. Unlike other songbirds, they tend to repeat their song several times before moving onto another variation. They are mostly ground birds bouncing in and out of the nearby bushes. One time He was sitting on a pole that is supporting deer fencing. He quickly looked down, flew to the fence and just like that he nabbed a moth. I did not even see the moth until he picked it up and swallowed it.
When I go out and visit with him I sit quietly and talk softly with him. It has been interesting to watch his progress in identifying where it is safe for him to go. When he first decided to try my arm he would fly onto the arm and immediately pop off again. Each time he tried he stayed longer. If I did a sudden movement he would immediately go to a nearby fence. He did this same type of testing with my knees, shoulders and now head. Although he still does this when I first go outside the time has shortened.
This behavior is no different than when people meet other people or move into a new environment. Don’t we often test people? Or I should say, wouldn’t this be a good idea? As children grow they test the world around them all the time. This is how we learned some basics of life, such as not to touch a hot stove burner. Hopefully we have all learned this. It is through testing out the options that we find our friends and our true family. It is often why some friendships are short and others last the test of time.
I am pleased to have met this little fellow. I feel honored that he has picked me for a friendship, although I do tell him he needs to go meet other girl sparrows.
He has reminded me to practice patience. It takes time to welcome others into my life. I take time each day to sit quietly with him. I use this time to sit and observe nature in my immediate surroundings, listen to the birds and watch what is going on out on the Sound. And I breath. Always I breath.
He has certainly added a bit of joy to my stay on Whidbey Island.
Today I am thankful for magic, trust and nature and one little brown bird.