Saturday, February 21, 2009
The morning snow was brief but intense—enough to practically cover the ground over the space of thirty minutes. Watching it come down, swirling in every direction, it was easy to expect more than just this fraction of an inch. Meager though the snow amount turned out, it was apparently sufficient to stir the birds. Scarcely had the first flake appeared before traffic at the various feeders tripled. A sudden hungry horde, all jostling and yattering like starving teenagers at a high-school cafeteria. Chickadees, titmice, juncos, nuthatches, a variety of sparrows, house finches, cardinals, a couple of wrens, and a profusion of woodpeckers including the paranoid pileated who flew in to snatch a few quick hammers at the suet cage before dashing back across the river. In other words, the usual morning line-up of suspects. Squirrels, too—five of ‘em, leaping, jumping, chasing each other around at breakneck speed, briefly startling the feathered guests working the hanging baskets of sunflower seeds, or shoving aside the ground feeders in order to nuzzle through the cracked corn like bushy-tailed pigs. This feeding frenzy had been going on for several minutes when the goldfinches arrived, carried in on a snowy gust like a handful of splendiferous confetti. Winter gold from a leaden sky. The goldfinches still wore their drab seasonal dress, of course—shades of olive-gold rather than their resplendent summer namesake hues of dazzling yellow. Which was fine by me. Gold that needs a polish is still valuable treasure. And this quick squadron of goldfinches in their muted raiment were nevertheless royalty. Besides, I’m not sure an Ohio winter watcher is prepared to witness birds as brilliant as marigolds. But my, oh my…how such breathtaking creatures would light up a dismal February morning!