True bird watchers dedicate themselves to the identification and appreciation of the species, specifically noting seasonal colors, markings, and songs. I do not detect details like the color of the wing bars, or for that matter, if there even are wing bars. Clearly, I will never qualify as a bona fide bird watcher.
However, while I cannot accurately describe the stripes or the exact seasonal color of any particular bird’s feathers, I do identify many human-like characteristics in birds.
As I watched a wonderful array of birds visit the feeders, I was again reminded of my impressions about the avian community, about how the traits I associate with their actions somewhat shape their characters.
Those cardinals, for example, are truly beautiful but they know it so they tend to pose a lot in places where people will appropriately ooh and aah over them, especially on winter days with snowy backdrops.
The blue jays are equally beautiful, but they are the bullies of the bird community which, for me, overrides and diminishes their outer beauty. They use their size to intimidate smaller birds and satisfy their needs. I wonder if their bravado extends to confrontations with larger birds.
Tiny hummingbirds are amazing creatures who demonstrate incredible speed and energy matched by a fiercely tenacious defensiveness. Perhaps it is necessary for survival, but I find their physical attacks on each other and the apparent unwillingness to share disturbing. They claim and guard every food source as personal and private property.
Then there are the woodpeckers, the noisy, nervous creatures who march up and down tree trunks banging their little beaks against the hard wood in search of insects. My head hurts just watching them search for food. I hope they have the equivalent of an endless internal supply of Excedrin pumping through their systems.
In contrast, mourning doves are so calm and placid. The owls may be the recognized symbol of wisdom, but those doves are no dummies. They patiently wait below the feeders as the more aggressive birds jockey for position, then, without doing a lick of work, feast on all the seeds carelessly shoved to the ground — catering service at its best.
Tiny wrens, on the other hand, have an enormous capacity for work. Not only are they capable of building elaborate, structurally-sound nests (overnight in our hanging baskets) but they also have powerful voices disproportionate to that tiny framework. How something so small can produce such big beautiful results is wondrous.
However, not at all enjoyable are those big raucous crows. They meet as if in a filibustering session, making a great deal of empty noise, constantly making their presence known. Might they be considered the politicians in the bird society?
My personal favorites are the chickadees. They are cute but never deliberately flaunt it. They get along well with most other birds, and are not greedy or nasty. They play, flitting from tree to tree, chirping in laughter-like tones, or half seriously checking the bug population along a window frame, occasionally peeking in the window. They are more trusting than many birds; merely opening the door will not send them skittering away. Life, to them, is to be enjoyed – they are happy!
Perhaps all animal groups present similar images, but in birds I see the peacekeepers and the troublemakers; the industrious ones as well as those who always seek an easy way to do things; the protectors and the aggressors; the friendly, sharing individuals along with the greedy, selfish ones; those with surface beauty and those whose beauty comes from within; and those to be trusted as well as those to avoid.
Like humans, it takes all kinds to make up the whole of their world. Often, noting similarities helps me to better understand the coexistence of all creatures.
Perhaps it is not so unusual that I can readily identify so many of the same characteristic and qualities in both species. In my time, I have met some mighty strange birds who happen to be people.
Repubbed from Apr 2016