Publisher’s Corner

Close Encounter Of The Avian Kind

I was sitting on the front porch in my Adirondack chair, made from recycled plastic bottles, when along came a sparrow and landed on the railing next to me. He looked right at me then looked around the yard and then back at me, chirped something then flew off to the birdhouse atop the old, ivy-covered maple tree stump. How odd, I thought. He had absolutely no fear of this rather large human. Maybe he wasn’t intimidated because I was so laid back in my chair sipping on a cold IPA. I presented no threat. I took a sip of my beer and just seconds later a humming bird came flitting by a few times and then stopped in mid-air just three feet in front of my face. I froze in my chair so as not to frighten this tiny feathered helicopter. He hovered there for a few seconds looking right into my eyes, then darted off toward the hydrangea bush. I started to wonder what it was about me that was attracting these birds. The thought had not left me before a house wren landed on the porch railing and squawked a bit while his tail twitched. He too was looking at me and trying to tell me something. The problem is, I just don’t speak Sparrow, Hummingbird or Wren. I waited for a few minutes, expecting another bird to grace my presence but I only watched as a pair of goldfinches visited the purple coneflowers in the corner of the yard. I wondered why they didn’t drop by for a visit this day as it was obviously my time for close up and personal bird watching. Or perhaps I was the one being watched. I took another sip of beer and began to wonder if these neighborhood birds were trying to figure out what was going on with us humans. There were many more of us at home these days. Many more out for walks, riding bicycles and spending time with our families. It was as if they knew something was up with our species. Perhaps they were just consoling me and they knew our favorite cat Silva had just crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. They had often seen Silva looking at them from inside the living room window or screen door. And now suddenly they didn’t see the saucer-eyed cat. Maybe they were trying to relate a warning that viruses can attack any species and they felt our pain. It wasn’t like a new thing, sitting out on the porch. I do it every evening after work, usually with my wife Niki. We love to watch life go by. The neighborhood Red-Tailed Hawks, the return of the Blue Jays, and yes the Sparrows, the Hummingbirds and the Wrens. I was surprised I was not visited by one of the House Finches that so often check for a nesting spot under our front porch roof. But like so many who go house hunting, this location was too close to traffic and they quickly move on after a quick once over (or in this case “once under”). I told Niki about my close encounter of the avian kind, but I guess you had to be there. I am telling you, it was no coincidence. There was a message to their visit. I am sure there is something, somewhere in ancient lore that explains the meaning behind an up close and personal visit by a sparrow, a hummingbird and a wren. I will just have to search the internet for the secret of this meeting. In the mean time, I am just going to enjoy the fact that I am attracting friends of any species during this pandemic. I felt perfectly comfortable being closer than 6 feet from my feathered friends. They cheered me up at a time when I needed a smile. These birds flew into my bubble and spoke to me with kindness and wonder. Maybe it was a warning, maybe it was just to say hello. But I know it was purposeful. It’s often the little things that help us get through a pandemic. The air beneath their wings lifted me up, and I am grateful!

Stay Safe, Mask Up, Save Lives! J.B. Lester