Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June 8: Waxwings

Even over the sounds of my washing machine, the neighbor's lawnmower, the Red Sox game on t.v., and the crunching in my mouth of a handful of Annie's Organic Snack Mix Bunnies (my new favorite junk food!), I can hear the high-pitched lisping calls of a small flock of waxwings somewhere in the vicinity of my front yard. This time of year cedar waxwings are primarily flycatchers, switching from an off-season diet heavy in berries and fruits to insects. Birds need protein too. And here along the river, we've got plenty of flies. So thankfully, we're graced by the presence of these beautiful birds. It (almost) makes up for all these damn flies.

Yesterday evening I could hear waxwings while I was gardening, but try as I might, I couldn't see them as they moved in the shadows of the leaves. I was reminded of the resonant final lines of Elizabeth Bishop's poem "Brazil, January 1, 1502," in which she describes Portuguese soldiers chasing through the jungle "those maddening little women who kept calling, / calling to each other (or had the birds waked up?) / and retreating, always retreating, behind it." I like to think of the waxwings flitting and whispering behind the green tapestry of leaves as feathered natives teasing me from the jungle of my yard. Unlike the conquistadors, I don't want to catch them. I just enjoy knowing they're there, hearing their gentle calls as they glean their dinner.

Soft voices in trees--
flitting, gregarious birds.
It's a lawn party!

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