One of my greatest life’s pleasures is seeing birds in all their colors, hearing birds of all songs and calls. Though my grapes never grew, I am happy that the birds have come to my arbor. These Red-winged Blackbirds and House Finches are happily cracking black oil sunflower seeds in the simple feeder Caleb made as a Boy Scout for his Nature merit badge. I wrote this poem about feeding the birds.
Bird feeders swing empty from nails pounded in the arbor.
After years of compost, fertilizer, water, and iron,
the vines still grow sickly and yellow, vines that grow no grapes.
I once dreamed of the arbor covered in a dense green,
with plump, hanging clusters of white and purple grapes.
Bird houses nailed to the arbor sit vacant,
the entrance holes too large or two small, too high or too low,
or too exposed to climbing cats,
vacant but for teaming yellow jackets that relish dark nooks.
The finches prefer the spiny blue spruce nearby.
Who knows where the sparrows and blackbirds live?
But they visit by the hundreds, chirping and chasing, cracking at shells.
I must fill the swinging feeders
for the little birds that descend to my empty arbor.
At virtually any time of the day or night on Rabbit Lane, I can hear birds singing or cawing or screeching or chirping. This evening, as the sun set over the Great Salt Lake, I heard Ravens, Red-winged Blackbirds, an American Kestrel, House Sparrows, and House Finches. Opening our ears to the sounds of birds is enriching enough, but opening our hearts to their beauty is a meditation, an uplifting of the soul, a catharsis. Do you listen to the birds singing around you?
A robin! A robin!
Chirping on the branch.
A king bird! A king bird!
Whistling on the fence post.
A finch! A finch!
Twittering on the feeder.
A lark! A lark!
Singing in the meadow.
A dove! A dove!
Cooing in the morning.
A snipe! A snipe!
Tumbling through the evening sky.