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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Four and Twenty Blackbirds

A couple of weeks ago I was walking up the driveway with our newspaper.  I looked up from the headlines (political venom reaches its height) to see four robins and 11 brown thrashers pecking away at our yard.  It felt like it might rain later, so I though it was possible the worms were rising, an easy birdie breakfast.  Still, that was a lot of birds.

Another fifteen minutes saw me ensconced on the screened-in porch with the paper and *sigh with satisfaction* a cup of coffee.  I looked up from nuclear developments in Iran to see a caucus of crows gathering in the copse between our house and the neighbors.  The ruckus began.  Crows have loud and determined discussions in our hickory and pine trees at indeterminate intervals.  I can never determine when or why as the itinerary is never made public.  (Well, there was that one time, that crow funeral, which I wrote about a long time ago, but usually there’s no comprehensible  reason for their gathering.)  This day’s debate was loud and earnest.

Eventually the commotion died down, and I sat reading depressing bombings in Iraq.  A few minutes later, I heard another sound, vaguely like the chirping of a cardinal although the cardinals were conspicuously absent. The trees are usually rife with them, singing and flitting in and out of the pine trees that overhang our porch. Where were they? Exiled by an avian vote?

I looked around for the weird sound.  Nothing. 

I settled into a depressing article about famine, and the peculiar call started up again.  This time the chirping morphed into a clucking.  I looked around again.  Nothing.

Now I was into a local shooting, the chirping-clucking going full force.  Had my neighbors acquired some odd kind of chickens?  I folded my paper and went out the screen door onto the deck for an in-depth look.  

Elaine was sunning herself, stretched out in the corner of the deck, whiskers and tail at rest.  She showed no – I mean absolutely no – interest in the sounds.  She’s 16 and going deaf, but still she’s a cat; you'd think bird noise would have gotten at least an ear twitch.    

The noise momentarily abated, then resumed full force.  I looked toward it, and, rounding the trunk of the old oak-chestnut was a big squirrel, and she was pissed!  I have not seen squirrels on the deck since we took down the bird feeder (and that’s a story that I will have to relay in another blog), but this one was highly indignant.  The chirping and clucking and spitting were being flung at Elaine, despite her complete disregard for the performance.   

That’s when I decided to leave murder and mayhem and the “peaceful” sounds of nature.  I took the crossword puzzle and went inside, closing the door behind me.   

PS  This morning it was blue jays.  Four big, beautiful blue jays were conversing in the pine trees.  Blue jays are always so loud, I wonder if they're a bit hard of hearing.  Anyway, I love the myth that says they guard the house, and I always like it when they're around.  Still not cardinals.

PPS  My own computer is off having its screen fixed, and we are headed to Nova Scotia next week for two more weeks.  I will diligently try to blog, but if you don't hear from me for a while, don't despair.  I promise to soon write you the story of the raccoons and my bird feeder.  

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