Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday afternoon with the birds

The call of sunshine and fresh air was more than I could resist yesterday, so instead of sitting in my office "pretending" to get some work done, while really watching the feeder through the window, I went out and enjoyed the sunshine. I puttered around the yard, moving my confused and trying to bloom cacti out from their nightly protected spot on the patio into the sunshine, but mostly just watching the feeder from a short distance and enjoying the warmer temps. I sat down on a big rock near the biggest scary Cholla and was surprised to see one of the Cactus Wrens, right there in front of me. Of course I had my little camera and amazingly enough this time the birds seemed more interested in letting me get a decent picture. Click on the pictures and they open up for an even better view.

Both of the Cactus Wrens were out and about, busy as ever, adding to their nest and tracking down insects I suppose. I realized sitting there watching them, that my yard was really their world, and that I was actually the interloper here.

The big scary Chollas and the dirt and weeds and the birds that make it their home were all here long before I showed up. The cycle of life and death in this little patch of desert has been going on and on long before I ever decided to start to observe it. I wonder what they thought when I first moved in? I wasn't much of a problem I suppose, as they caught rare glimpses of me going in and out of the house. I didn't bother their home or really pay much attention to them.

My first notice of them was through my bedroom window-the biggest Cholla is right by the window, and I would hear the babies squawking to be fed. I've even woken up in the night and heard them at times.

They must have been surprised when I suddenly started taking an interest in this little world, digging up the ground, and planting new plants. No longer was it just a rush from the house to the truck and back. They probably got used to seeing me work around the yard, and certainly they noticed when the feeder went up and suddenly a world of sparrows and finches invaded their yard on a daily basis for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Although these insect eaters may not have appreciated the seeds and all the activity near their nest, they must have thought it was nice when the bird bath went up, and a fresh source of water was ever available.
As I sat there thinking about birds and the desert and my place in their world, I noticed the Curved Bill Thrasher was watching me intently from what seems to be the entrance to their nesty world inside the Cholla. I snapped a couple pictures of him and he flew away.

I watched him fly out over the front yard, which is still just mostly dirt and big cactus. I've noticed he hangs out a good deal under the smaller Cholla, and I watched him there. He was watching me too- and it isn't fair because as you can see in this next picture- he doesn't have to turn anything but his head to keep his eyes on me! Talk about flexibility!

After he flew back to his nest, I walked over to the little Cholla and looked at the ground. It was covered with little holes. I realized then that this is his hunting ground. He is after insects in the ground and all these little holes are the evidence of his many meals.

So perhaps, it isn't all bad, that much of this big yard remains wild. It gives the Thrashers and the Cactus Wrens a place to find food and plenty of dried weeds to build their nests. It makes me realize that beauty is not all perfect green plants and weedless flower beds. Sometimes beauty is that perfect dead weed for a nest, or a shady place in the dirt to hunt insects.
As I went back in the house and left the birds to their world I vowed that no matter what changes I make out here, this is still first and foremost their world- their home- and the best thing that I can do on a Sunday afternoon is sit and share it with them.


Raph G. Neckmann said...

How beautiful! It is always so edifying to sit and watch and think. You have a great garden!

Aiyana said...

What great bird photos. You do have some really big Chollas! I have a couple of small ones, and have seriously thought about getting rid of them before they become huge. I planted them because I wanted a good variety of cacti, but you have to give a wide berth for sure.