Hard to explain.

There’s a tree outside my window, and in April it’s got sapsuckers. Spring is sapsucker season.

Seeing them on cue like this confirms that there’s a reassuring continuity in the way the world works.

The bird I saw today reminded me of a sapsucker from my past…

There was a time when I spent April and all other months in a Chicago skyscraper. I had a job on the 26th floor.

Any birding I did in those days was confined to weekend forests, where there were sapsuckers and other species I’d note on a list.

"...where a sapsucker belongs."

But one morning when I was in my skyscraper, I saw a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker over my shoulder.

It was clinging to the building outside my window.

I went to the glass. We stared at each other.

This curiously named bird actually has a yellow belly.

What was surprising, though, is that it and its belly were 26 floors up.

After our moment of eye contact the sapsucker took off, dipping away in the roller-coaster style that’s typical of its kind.

Why had he come to my window, up there on the concrete?

The April sapsucker in the tree outside my house this morning was where a sapsucker belongs, and he was easy to explain.

But, the one that came to see me years ago when I was at work, well, that guy’s hard to explain.

7 Responses to “Hard to explain.”

  1. Tom says:

    Whoever named this sucker must not have noticed his hat.

  2. pat says:

    temptation overwhelms me: the sapsucker found a sucker & a sap in one package….

  3. Mark Hunter says:

    Two days ago I was working an assignment in Houston on the 18th floor. I could see birds moving around near ground level, but I mostly had to guess what they were. Then, directly below me, westbound on Hidalgo at a high rate of speed, went a pigeon or dove with a dramatic pattern on its back. I had a bird guide with me (no binoculars, though) and I riffled through the doves. Yep, it was a White-winged Dove, unquestionably. Nice to see for this Los Angeles resident. And a fun way to make an ID.

  4. Marc D. says:

    As Daffy Duck might say, “Thufferin’ thap thuckers, that’s hard to ethplain.”

  5. Once when I labored in a cube farm, as I walked into the tall building after lunch, alone, a hawk feather fell from the empty sky onto the sidewalk in front of me. I know a message when I see it, especially one that clear. I could not accept the invitation then, had to wait. Now I can party in the woods and meadows.

  6. Paul S. says:

    I feel like I missed a couple of months of Hidden Birds! Been wanting one of those mugs since I saw it in “The Big Year.” I found April’s Pine Grosbeak in the…article…

    I enjoyed today’s article, “Hard to Explain” especially. Big fan of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and am always happy to see them return to Iowa.

    Keep up the good work!


  7. Two ideas: That sapsucker could be the very same one…in my mystical notion of birds, that would be the answer. That sapsucker could be your muse. Either way, you noticed him, and he was there to be noticed. Nice post!