Each day sees another spark of brightness in the grass, in the trees, or at the feeder. Where, I wonder, have they been? In whose back yard did they winter? Some, stray thoughts perched for a moment on a branch in the mind, fluttered last fall in the falling snow and melted away. Others, I know, stayed here with us and we fed them throughout the short cold days.
The robins, even though they are not my English robins, are my favorites, perhaps because they remind me of my childhood home. Less bold than those of my youth, they fly when we draw near and do not sit on the spade handle watching for worms as we turn the early earth and shake the garden back to life.
Sentry duty: and they march up and down the lawn pacing their quicksteps, then standing to attention. They strut their stuff, turn their heads, listen, and look like guardsmen on parade outside our pastoral palace.
With the guardsmen come the workmen, the busy birds, the ones who tap on the trees in search of insects or to set the juices running. Shy, they turn away and hide behind the trunk. But if we are quick, we can catch them, heads turned, when absorbed in their work, they forget to fear us.
And the song-birds, shiest of all, often heard, their melodies, but their quicksilver spirits seldom seen except by chance and the artist’s luck and speed of finger. But listen: other songs throb their melodies on the wind and most days now we wake to music. A calling in the trees in the evening’s glow also tells us the world has turned once more and the birds, the glorious birds, the dwindling flocks of endangered birds, less this year than last year or the year before, are back. We must welcome them and cheer them while they are still with us. Neither we nor they may endure much more.