Birdwatch . . . Leap of Faith

art frame Tim McCormack known as Phyzome 204px-Turkey_vulture_profile_pe_peMarch passed, blurred gray with rain. The backyard trees, still winter stark, hung heavy with a dozen birds roosting in dark clumps. “Turkey buzzards,” grumbled the neighbor as he wheeled his green trash tub to the curb. Jane grabbed some binoculars; the birds’ shrunken heads were red, with small hooked beaks.

After a drizzle, the birds flapped their black-brown wings, as if to shake off the damp. Then they took off and soared. The underspread of their wings caught silvery gray in half sunlight.artistic border Cathartes aura Florida USA flying 8_pe

Jane walked outside at dusk and stared up. The invaders still clung high in the trees. Hissing, she heard hissing. The neighbor said they would not snatch her cat. She quit looking at the backyard. She quit mowing.

artistic frame Amos Oliver Doyle Forsythia_and_Vinca_pe_peIn April forsythia forced tiny yellow starbursts. The buzzards disappeared. Suddenly the trees were fringing light green.

Jane hung four baskets of Boston ferns from porch hooks, and they swung gently. She hated the plastic containers and fat plastic hooks. Tacky. Next year she would buy wrought iron baskets with coco frame Kor!An (Корзун Андрей) 360px-Nephrolepis_exaltata_(in_a_greenhouse)_01_pe_pe

One morning Jane yawned and went to get the paper tossed carelessly at the edge of the gravel driveway. She wore an oversize T-shirt. Mrs. Brown, her across-the-street neighbor, always met the day with her rocker pulled up to her glass storm door, watching. Jane’s “Murphy’s Irish Pub” T was no shorter than a mini skirt. That was decent enough. She scrooched down for the paper. As she came up, one of the ferns was trembling.

artistic border DickDaniels 320px-Carolina_Wren_RWD_peA tiny brown bird dithering in the fronds darted to a low hanging branch. A slightly larger one, its head capped with red, chattered from atop a bronze trellis leaning against the porch. Jane didn’t know about birds. She didn’t care. Her father used to hover over field guides to American birds. His lifelong dream was to find a birdfeeder that defied squirrels.

artistic frame cropped H.M. Dixon 364px-Bird's_Nests_and_Eggs_pe_pe_peThe birds fussed every morning when Jane took her morning coffee. She lounged a tad uncomfortably in the resin wicker chair. She couldn’t get used to its stiff woven arm. Her parents’ wicker furniture rotted in the basement. Still, she claimed her hour on the porch. The no-name birds could keep the rest of the day’s twenty-three hours. She thought about watering the fern with a turkey baster. Perhaps a safe enough distance. But she shrugged off the notion. If the fern dried up, she would get another at Home Depot.

Jane lost track of time. Pollen lightly dusted the porch. She didn’t feel like hosing it off and sipped her coffee at the dining room table. Early one morning, high-pitched chirping broke her coffee-musing silence. The babies had cracked their shells.artistic frame baby birds Audrey from Central Pennsylvania, USA 320px-Baby_House_Wren_Rehabbers_pe_pe

She dragged her chair to the closest window and pulled back a sheer. She stood on the saddle seat for uncounted frame Serena Whispers Flikr 251px _pe

The mother bird swooped in time and again. The chirping lost urgency. Jane left to toss some laundry in the washer. She dumped in some liquid detergent. Usually she carefully measured to the proper line in the cap. She ran back upstairs, but the nest was still. Jane yanked the pacing cat indoors. A fresh rain washed away the pollen dusting the porch boards.

artistic Julius Schorzman 320px-A_small_cup_of_coffee_peEvery morning Jane forgot her coffee and stood on the chair. After a few days, she set a stepladder on the porch, about three feet from the nest. Once she sneaked out barefoot after the parents had flitted away. She slowly climbed up two ladder steps and peeped between some ferns carelessly parted by the parents. Two feathery-fuzzed babies wobbled and stretched their necks and opened their beaks, with throats wide, ready to swallow. Jane climbed another step. They ducked and huddled.

fade pencil art frame crop Photo by and (c)2007 Jina Lee 180px-Multicolored_wind_chime_1_pe_pe_pe_pe_peThe birds waited for feedings between longer stretches. Now she could watch them at the window. The boldest took to standing, beak up, beady eyes glittering, and breast puffed. He postured like Washington crossing the Delaware, so she named him George. He looked through the jungle of ferns. He flapped defiantly.

George took his leap and the others soon after. Jane found her faith and mowed the rame smart Greg Hume 180px-Adirondack_chair_25_pe_pe

Copyright © 2014. Southward Down by Catherine Hamrick. All Rights Reserved.

Photo Credits

Turkey vulture courtesy of  Tim McCormack known as Phyzome

Soaring turkey vulture courtesy of Cathartes aura -Florida -USA -flying-8-4c

Forsythia courtesy of Amos Oliver Doyle

Ferns courtesy of Kor!An (Корзун Андрей)

Carolina Wren courtesy of Dick Daniels (

Eggs illustration courtesy of H.M. Dixon

Baby birds courtesy of Audrey from Central Pennsylvania, USA

Cat courtesy of Serena (“Whispers”) Flikr

Cup of coffee courtesy of Julius Schorzma

Wind chimes courtesy of Jina Lee (c) 2007

Adirondack chair courtesy of Greg Hume



12 thoughts on “Birdwatch . . . Leap of Faith

  1. Love the way you stitch a story together, Catherine. This is a drama that we’ve all seen play out at one time or another, and yet I will never watch it unfold in quite the same way thanks to your interpretation. “Like Washington crossing the Delaware…” What a great visual….immediately conjures an image. Thank you for kicking off this Spring weekend so wonderfully… :-)

  2. Very rich in the powers of imagination! Remember Prof Einstein once said “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. It’s fantastic my Storyteller!!

  3. I have been watching the same story unfold, by my den window. Can’t see the babies, but know they are there. The Mommy goes out several times during the day, to get food for them, such a good Mommy. Enjoyed your story of spring, and everything coming to life!

  4. Pingback: Irish and British rare bird news | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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