I had no idea they were having such a party back there. It was a surprise to walk out into the porch room and be greeted with so many bright banners of blue and orange celebration, flashes of intermingling color as birds, who had been congregating in all the feeders, took off all at the same time. So, the blue jays were back, in greater numbers this time it seemed. But what had me gasping, heart racing, was all the orange. I’d learn quickly from my little bird primer, kept handy on a nearby table, that they were the Baltimore Orioles, a sure sign that summer is on the way. New to bird-watching, this was my very first sighting of one ever. All I could think of was the bright orange fake fur bedspreads I coveted as a young girl, bringing me and my room alive, the color that has always been able to elicit this deep visceral response in me.
I ran to get my camera and found a spot to unobtrusively park myself at the window. The sun was bright. The limbs of Stella, the giant mother of a tree outside this room who provides all manner of beauty for me to regard each day, were swaying ever so gently in the wind.
Her leaves have unfolded, still have that just born blush, and unlike in the winter, when it was snow that provided dramatic backdrop for the chickadees and cardinals, this context of soft color filtering the bright sun had become a new gentler place to be.
I suppose filling all the feeders, after a week of them remaining empty in the chill of rainy days, was an invitation. From my own perch, I watched the party continue to gather momentum again. In just a short ten minute sit, I saw enough oriole activity to keep me re-booted for a long while. The blue jays had come with all their children, moms and dads watching from the tree as the little ones romped around on the ground, and in this, was able to connect with the softer side of these otherwise fierce creatures. I spotted a brown thrasher in the tree, who hopped down to make friends with the mourning dove couple in the grass below. A lone yellow warbler entertained, swinging furiously on the bell cage. But I spent most of the time sitting there training my lens on one oriole or another, soaking up that color, taking in the engaged behavior of these gorgeous birds who seemed to be the heart of the party.
Why isn’t the Robin here? I know she is right out front where she always is, her favorite spot at the edge of the lawn and road with a direct line into my kitchen window. Sometimes she hops into the fold of the grass and walks around, always solitary.
I’ve never seen her with any other birds, nor does she seem to invite others into this domain in the front yard that seems to be all hers. One of the things I love about my home is it’s location on the road. It has such a classic public face and acknowledges participation in human community. In contrast, Stella’s domain at the edge of the meadow facing the woods has always felt like a much more private, and even with the current excitement, one I typically experience in solitude. An oxymoron?
It’s the morning after. The only bird in sight now, seen through the glass that is foggy with dirt and morning chill, is a lone rose-breasted grossbeak, settled in the feeder eating the leftovers.
Without any other bird in sight, she gets up on the edge of the feeder and does a little dance. Maybe it’s all a party all the time.