Years ago, you’re in an office on the 26th floor of a Chicago skyscraper, doing work profoundly unrelated to nature.

You have the feeling of being watched.

You look over your shoulder.

On the other side of your window there’s a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, clinging to the building, meeting your gaze.


The bird had picked your window. Not the window of some guy who wouldn’t know a sapsucker from his elbow.

You grab a cheap throw-away camera and get a picture.

The shot is poor. Dark and fuzzy. You find it recently, while cleaning out a desk.

Back when you saw the sapsucker, you had the momentary feeling that it sought you out, personally.

Looking at the old picture, you still wonder about that.

But you shake off the thought.

You just chalk it up to the simple truth that sometimes you watch the birds, and sometimes they watch you.

11 Responses to “Unnatural.”

  1. John Johnston says:

    Makes me wonder how many birds refer to themselves as people watchers. Or simply peoplers.

  2. Peg says:

    Gulls watch us, for sure. “is she done with that sandwich?” tufted titmice & chickadees, certainly. “hey, she finally refilled the feeders!” …. Vultures, yes. “she hasn’t moved for a while….”

  3. Rick says:

    Ha!!! Loved Peg’s comment: “she hasn’t moved for a while.” This brought back
    memories of a long-ago friend who, on a lark, decided that he’d lay on his back in a grassy pasture in vulture country just to see what would happen.

    Later, I asked him what how it had gone. He said that a couple of vultures spied him and, sure enough, they began circling him for awhile.

    “And then?” I asked.

    “Well . . . eventually, they landed and . . . ate me,” he said, matter of factly.

    Now, I ask you: Why am I so seldom around when the best Kodak moments occur? It’s just not fair!

  4. steve fluett says:

    From birds perspective; A group of 12 birders moving, stopping, and peering about; A step up from cows, out & about ? The photo looks nice, nice for a coffee mug .

  5. Marc says:

    Thufferin’ thassafrass, a Yellow-Bellied Thapthucker!

  6. Yolanda says:

    Great moment,, up on 26th floor, made me laugh.

  7. typehype says:

    What an amazing shot.

  8. Norm Schaefer says:

    Some great little stories….fun and informative….norm

  9. Roy says:

    Get an i-phone, fool. The best camera is the one you have with you, unless it’s cardboard.

  10. Sandra Bertone says:

    enjoy your blog. That’s a rally strange bird! good picture. I hope it’s okay to share: We are all bird watchers, in our family. Two sons 46 years old and 39 years old. This year was the first time my youngest saw a
    male Painted Bunting. So happy for him. They are so beautiful and pretty difficult to spot.
    Happy Birding,

  11. Sandra Bertone says:

    I so enjoyed your story. I have told it too quite a few people. It was so amazing.

Leave a Comment