There is a persistent buzzing sound emanating from the tangle of rhododendron bushes that create a safe bird habitat tunnel on one side of my house. I pause and wait and am rewarded by a glimpse of something small and pert with an upright flag of a tail: a Bewick’s wren. As a novice birder I am pleased to have recognized that distinctive call that drew my attention to the otherwise small brownish gray bird nearly invisible in the thick leaves. Learning bird sounds, bit by bit, has added to my awareness and affection for these lively but elusive creatures. My ordinary-day life is made richer by these chance encounters; there is more life going on than I knew!
Birds are everywhere! As the cat follows me onto our front porch we both hear the scream of an eagle aloft in the sky as it wheels large circles above nearby Capitol Lake; we look at each other for reassurance and she elects to stay on the porch for now. I nod my agreement even though it would be fantastical if an eagle could dodge all the fences, bushes and other barriers to snatch the cat dozing by the tomatoes, but who wants to find out?
She elects to sprawl on the cushioned bench where she studiously has to ignore the frantic maneuvers of two hummingbirds squabbling over the hanging feeders. Their iridescent flashes are the lightning bolts to the thundering whirr of their wings as they chase each other through the garden. Quieter birds go about their business scratching for bugs, twittering to each other in my neighbor’s protective holly tree, and gathering in small groups on the wires above; mating and raising broods are done for the season. The only other sound comes from scrub jays pounding hazelnut shells on the roof, hopeful of the prize within.
It’s the in-taking pause of breath as one season begins its turn to the next, summer into autumn. Mornings are cooler, often misty and gray, but clearing into heat and high skies by afternoon. We awake now in darkness and clear away dinner dishes as night overtakes sunset. The birds already know all about the waning season; observing them and understanding their cycles offers us a calendar of days full of light and dark, growth and rest, the eternal round.