Another tragedy, a very personal one, has struck the backyard, though ironically it is completely unrelated to the window collisions of the past. This summer, we have come to know a particular house finch whom we named Fluffy because of his preference to fluff his feathers at all times. Always smaller than his peers, Fluffy constantly sought the shade and seemed more suseptible to heat and distress than other birds. He would not flit away, and in fact would often sit drowsy and content near the feeders and birdbath. On several occassions, my husband was even able to fill the birdbath while Fluffy sat quietly in the shower, enjoying the wet.
This afternoon, after speaking to Fluffy and gently touching his feathers - which he permitted in his quiet way - I was forced to say goodbye to him. He'd flown up to the roof and nestled beneath the eaves of a window, again in the shade, but several minutes later he fell from the roof onto the patio. I was with him as he died, and we've taken care that no predators will benefit from his passing.
It is unfortunate that the birds we can most easily identify as individuals are also those who have the least likely odds of survival. Their charming characteristics often come from bizarre behavior, unnatural colorations, or other genetic aberrations that ultimately make them more vulnerable to predation and natural selection - Fluffy undoubtedly had such disorders that made him less able to adapt and react to his surroundings. For a few weeks, however, they bring joy and wonder to our backyards as we grow to know their personalities and observe their behavior, and it is with fondness tinged with inevitable sadness that we remember them. Farewell, Fluffy.