the way out here

Aviary abodes

By HUNTER HILL
Posted 7/8/20

I often like to write about my recent adventures, things I do with my family outside and just a general appreciation for nature, which I feel so inspired by. Sometimes I have a hard time coming up …

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the way out here

Aviary abodes

Posted

I often like to write about my recent adventures, things I do with my family outside and just a general appreciation for nature, which I feel so inspired by. Sometimes I have a hard time coming up with a picture to capture my story, but in other cases, I’m humbled by the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. Being that I have less than a thousand words to match literary wits with the inherent power of my photos, I feel fortunate to be able to share the images that spark my tales.

Ever since last summer, I have lived in regret: regret that I failed to take a picture of a bird that I appreciated but took for granted. For months, she soared around my head, chirping and defending her nest in my garden’s apple tree. I saw her almost every day we went down to water the plants and feed the chickens; I always told myself I was going to write about her and the feeling of being so close to an otherwise socially distant creature. As it would happen, the day I walked down to the garden with my camera, she had vanished. I peaked into her tree to find her nest knocked away and empty, and to my great compunction, I soon realized that my overzealous cat had rid me of her company.

You may think it a small matter, but for over a year now, I have considered the missed opportunity by not capturing her on camera when I had the chance. Only recently was I blessed with the opportunity to redeem my past mistakes when a similar bird took up residence in one of the two birdhouses we installed this past spring. Compared to building garden beds and hanging by a rope from my chicken coop (see “It all hangs on this,” a previous column of mine in the award-winning River Reporter), I realize this doesn’t sound like a very big deal. But to me, I felt excited for this chance at redemption and the privilege to stand mere feet from the winged creature’s haven. Was it an exotic bird? No. Was it somehow unique in another way? No. But this was my new neighbor—or I should say, is, my new neighbor.

Just as I got this second chance to enjoy the close proximity of my feathered friends, they benefitted from the improved security that the birdhouse provided them. You remember I mentioned my cat? Well, the new birdhouse stands about six-and-a-half feet off the ground on an isolated pole. I won’t say he can’t get into it, but he will certainly have a far greater challenge doing so.

In one birdhouse, I was able to witness a family of swallows—what specific kind I’m not sure, I would have to defer to my mother, the avid ornithologist. In the other birdhouse, at nearly half the size, a rather cantankerous wren boldly stands atop her roof whenever I am out around her side of the garden. Both seem to have laid their seasonal claim to the sanctuary of the wooden houses and are pleasant, if not outspoken, neighbors. I particularly enjoy the swallow who nestles in the open portal of her home and curiously observes my toiling around the garden beds nearest her. Rorick, my son, is sometimes transfixed when his attention is captured by her swooping. Perhaps he will need a pair of binoculars when he gets a little older.

The way out here is about valuing the tiny things, like the fine details of a single yard’s ecosystem. We take to heart the occasions provided to make right what has weighed on our minds from seasons past. As for the birds, I welcome my natural neighbors to the canvas of my ever-building homestead. After all, even the folks in Jurassic park know, without birds, something just doesn’t seem right.

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