My wife has become quite the bird lady.

With the running fountain and canopy of trees that came with the house we moved into last year and the little cloth bags full of seed and hummingbird juice she buys and places in the trees, our backyard has become a theme park with wings. And the birds come. It seems every species in our area has shown up at one time or another.

Watching the birds come and go, eating, flying, perching, bathing, singing, I have my favorites. The finches and hummingbirds, the doves that do more walking than flying…especially when they show up in pairs, and I imagine them mated for life on some sort of date walking together along the edge of the stone retainer wall.

Then I see this jet black bird with fire engine red wings, a show stopper, and think wouldn’t it be great to wait for the perfect mix of birds, then throw a net over the whole thing—one big aviary holding all my favorites. There’d be plenty of room for them to fly and feel free, and I could see them any and every time I looked out, avoiding those days of monochrome sparrows or nothing at all.

But next thought is that the moment the net goes over, I’m responsible for those birds, feeding and cleaning, making sure they were tended if I had to leave town. And the thought after that was that there would never again be the widening smile over a bird I’d never seen before, the wondering where they go when gone, or the returning gratitude of knowing that of all the other yards and places they could have been, the birds chose our yard, our food and water. Chose us


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