Real deal.

It’s cold and windy in the woods. I’m on the planet of no birds. There’s nothing. It’s early in the season, so this isn’t too surprising.

But it’s curious that I’ve been seeing pictures of migrants on ambitious birding websites. Brown Thrashers, Eastern Meadowlarks, Red-headed Woodpeckers. Some guy even got a picture of a Scarlet Tanager. How can that be; it’s only April.

But my woods are bleak. There’s a visitor’s cabin near the parking area, and the rangers who work there have feeders out back. Seeds, suet, fruit. There must be birds there. But, damnit, I’m not going near the place.

I have this thing about feeders. They’re one step above going to a zoo. Why not visit the bird house and get excited about Flamingos? No way. The feeder’s unsatisfying, a kind of cheating.

So I stay away. As I walk the empty trail, I wonder why I’m here. Two reasons: One, after a day in an office it’s good to get into the wild. Two, I try to put some “daily sightings” on this website. I’m here for both of us. You, me. If I strike out, I’m sorry.

Near an open field, I see something eye-catching in the weeds. Man-made, small, flat, greenish. Money? It’s a five dollar bill, I think.

Then I get closer and discover it’s not the real deal, just an old coupon for a pizza restaurant, a piece of paper shaped and patterned like a fiver. I put it in my pocket to throw away later, and head out of the woods.

As I walk, I’m imagining that every bird in the county must be at the feeder behind the cabin. They must be in the trees above it and on the ground around it. All species, sizes and colors. Common and rare.

I’ve seen no birds on the trail where I walked, and have no five bucks, either. But the air was good to breathe, the feel of the office is now gone, and I’m ready to hike back to the car, back to whatever’s next.

I never went near the feeder. A moral victory of sorts. I don’t care for zoos and don’t count on feeders. When I tell you about a bird, I’d rather that it not be eating out of human hands. I’d rather it be a sighting in the wild, the real deal.

One Response to “Real deal.”

  1. Norm says:

    Years ago I frequently visited a pub. Taking the way home down an alley I noticed a multi-colored bird, size of a robin, hovering above my head. It would dart ahead, sit and wait for me then take off, land again, and wait. This went on for 5 blocks. As I approached my house I gave a slight hand gesture. The bird shot down fluttered around me, finally landing on our house’s fence. We stared at one another. The bird didn’t fidget, just sat. The little rainbow colored guy finally flew off. I have never seen a bird with the plumage it displayed. White, red and turquoise, maybe yellow mixed in, too. It gave me a strange comfort and calm. I dunno, do guardian angels come in bird form?