Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I love all my backyard birds and cherish the days an entire flock comes to feed (never mind the decimation to my seed stocks), but it's the birds I can recognize as individuals that really become noticeable and heartwarming.

One such individual has been visiting for a few weeks; a house finch I've christened Droopy for the right wing he holds more loosely (see the photo; poor quality, but the best I could get to show his affliction). I suspect some type of nerve damage is the culprit for this bird's distinction, as he shows no other signs of illness and is otherwise healthy and perky. Though often alone - and recent studies have revealed how house finches, in particular, are unforgiving of ill or injured birds - he feeds well and is quite mobile, hopping about the deck and flying without discernible difficulty, if the tiniest bit lopsided. He seems quite content to rest often, but perks up as needed when disturbed and is well able to stay out of harm's way.

Too often we only notice individual birds once they are too drastically ill to be helped - swollen eyes, excessive lameness, obvious pox, etc. - but occasionally we see a bird that can stand out to us. That recognition gives us the chance to learn that bird as an individual, to study its behavior and discover its quirks, to smile when we see it and to miss it when it doesn't visit. These opportunities are rare, but should be treasured.

All my birds are friends, but it is nice to have a friend known by name and one whose company I can look forward to recognizing. I haven't seen him about in a few days, but I wish Droopy well and look forward to his next visit.

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