Saved by the Birds – Again

CR 11-9-14-8650

Costa Rica, much warmer than Chicago

The pain of losing my housemates upon returning from Costa Rica hits like a heavy weight as I prepare the birds’ breakfast every morning. I am still plenty angry too, but there is no gain in holding that inside of me. I had hoped to manage some photographs more related to this post before publishing but it didn’t happen, so I’ve mixed in a few photos prescient of the Costa Rica posts to come.

Blue and Dudley, with my cell phone last night

Blue and Dudley, with my cell phone last night

Not having much time yet to observe the new charges but very interested in their individual abilities to adapt to the new environment, the survivors and each other, I am pleased to report that so far, so good. I was most worried about the Diamond Dove making an adjustment – to be sure I have never had one of these birds before and am not exactly sure why I brought him home, except that I have a soft spot for doves, it’s a beautiful bird, and, well, maybe I even wondered if my last remaining budgie wouldn’t feel so put out if he was not the only single. The dove is more settled in every day, and even might have said something as early as Tuesday morning while I was putting food in the second large cage.  It was such a strange, loud sound and I wasn’t sure where it came from, but I could not connect it to anything going on outside.By Tuesday night he was cooing along with the music on the radio. I named him Dudley last night after Dudley Do-Right, one of my favorite cartoon characters. He follows Blue, the budgie, around, and may even have a crush on him (her? – too old to tell anymore). I can hardly wait to play music this weekend and see what transpires. And I hope Dudley gets more used to my real camera so I can take better pictures of him because he’s quite lovely.

Stuck in the office all day Tuesday while the reports of Sandhill Cranes flying over by the hundreds and thousands crammed the email–and I don’t even have a window to look out of–I was dispatched to Walgreen’s to buy some air freshener, so I chose the store that was on the corner of Randolph and State. Waiting at the light to cross State Street, almost before the light changed, I looked up and saw perhaps 250 Sandhill Cranes flying overhead – very high, and in a beautiful extended V formation, floating on the air currents, and felt redeemed.

Gray Catbird, Thompson Center

Gray Catbird, Thompson Center

Wednesday morning I packed my camera and lens in the camera backpack, because my regular backpack has ceased to fasten around my waist after the trip to Costa Rica. Even though I was absolutely sure I would have no opportunity to use the camera, it seemed silly to be using a camera backpack without a camera in it. I got off the train and walked 6 blocks before a woman stopped me to tell me the back of my pack was open! Not thinking (again), I slung the pack off my shoulder to check on it (I should have asked her to zip it up, I suppose) and the camera fell out onto the sidewalk. What More Could Go Wrong? was my sentiment at the time. But I thanked her, put the camera back in the pack, started going through the mental exercise of replacement/repair…and then, as I approached the Thompson Center, I decided to do the sensible thing and take the camera out, attach the lens, and see if it was still working. After readjusting the function wheel, it seemed to be fine (maybe that’s why those Canons are so heavy, they are encased in armor). I shot a couple sidewalk scenes, and then started walking along the planted berm which is full of scrubby little yews, cigarette butts, garbage, and birds – invariably a Rock Pigeon and House Sparrow hangout. Except a Gray Catbird jumped out in front of me and let me take its picture before darting back into the yews. I found my cell phone and reported it to ebird. I am glad I got a picture because the sighting is unusual for this time of year, as I suspected. I have checked every morning since and cannot find the bird, so this was its farewell photo.

A little more poking around produced one or two White-Throated Sparrows–a bit less unusual–and plenty of the predictable pigeons and House Sparrows. But then it occurred to me that if my pack had not been open, and I had not dropped the camera, I would most likely have walked right by the berm without noticing the Catbird. So the birds have triumphed again in making sense under even the most ridiculous circumstances.

CR Rufous-Tailed 11-9-14-4763

All of this chaos has caused me to sit back and take stock of where I am and where I really want to be. Instead of plunging ahead into the day-to-day-never-ending-existence that I inhabit. I am reminded of the more important work that I really want to get done–my work–and I am trying to find new resolve to make the time off from trips and some inclement weather birding count for something, for a while, and see if I can at least write the book that has been on my mind the past few years – if not the opera. It’s the least I can do in memory of all my dearly departed bird friends. I tried to take pictures of the temperature this morning with the cell phone so I could include them in this post, but it was apparently too cold for the phone to take the picture. As of 8:00 AM it was 22 degrees Fahrenheit or -6 Centigrade.

Two New Zebra Finch Guys

Two New Zebra Finch Guys (again with the cell last night) – awaiting Zebra Finch Girls

I will be back soon with pictures from Costa Rica, progress reports on the evolving indoor crowd, and eventually some winter birding in Chicago area too.

Grayish Saltator 11-9-14-8505

Here’s looking at you, from a Grayish Saltator

Thanks to all my followers and commenters and dear friends who are a great comfort and also more inspiration to carry on. 🙂

7 thoughts on “Saved by the Birds – Again

  1. Hello.

    I stumbled across your blog recently and greatly enjoyed the pictures. I then came to the most horrible news and your loss of so many of your group.

    I believe you are in the Chicago area? I am in extreme northwest Indiana myself, close to the border, and I too keep finches of a variety of sorts. I have about a dozen newly-weaned society finch chicks in our own aviary, all manner of colors and patterns, and if you were ever interested in taking on a few more of these birds, I would happily adopt a few out to you, as we’re getting a bit crowded, and it seems you are a very caring caretaker.

    Take care and best wishes, I love your bird stories and photography.

    • Hi, Dylan,
      Thanks for visiting my blog, glad you are enjoying it! Thanks also for the offer of Society Finches – but I’m afraid I have to decline. I remember being in your position years ago when I was sure I had too many budgies, too many Zebra Finches, and I thought I would have to start giving them away or selling them but it never happened… For a while I had a lot of birds, and because they were all related they were little cultures within themselves.
      It’s a very tricky business introducing new birds. Even though recently I had only two Societies left, they are likely sisters and I suspect the others that died were closely related as well. I brought in two new Societies, one male and one female, and it was not love at first sight. After almost three weeks the old girls hang out with the new guy somewhat and the new girl hangs out in a nest she shares with the new guy, but I don’t think anybody’s breeding yet.
      I have an interesting enough bird mix right now, which I hope to write about soon on this blog.
      Good luck with your finch population, and thanks for your kind words.

      • That’s perfectly fine. 🙂

        I concur, at current we have three-four generations of birds in the flock and the relationships between everyone are so entertaining. Everyone has a personality, and everyone – all forty-three – have names. Our birds, which include right now two dozen socies, 2 zebras, 2 spices and their three fledgelings, two Java rice finches who have co-adopted all the society babies as their own, two canaries, three silverbills, four budgies and a cockatiel, have free-roam of a sunny room of our home made into an aviary. They are so fun to have around.

      • What a nice assortment you have! I have never seen the Java Rice Finches, they look very interesting. I adored my “Spice” Finches – the scaly-breasted munias – for their utter wildness, but they were never able to establish their own population and in a way I am glad I wasn’t tempted to get more. Glad to hear your birds have a big space to live in. In my case, I live in the aviary. 🙂

      • Java finches are very hard to come by in our region. My birds are siblings and I was never able to find them unrelated mates – now they’ve paired together and I just use them as foster parents, which they excel at.

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