. . . Flock Together
The snow that fell overnight Sunday into Monday stuck to every twig, branch, and tree like wet plaster, turning the landscape into a frosted landscape. Thanks to windless conditions, the magic persists, amplified by the birds visiting the feeder on the other side of my studio window. The window frames a snow-drenched moving picture of birds flocking to eat black oil sunflower seeds. I’ve witnessed a remarkable procession of birds demonstrating the adage, birds of a feather flock together.
An Avian Virginia Reel
Just as fish find safety in schools, small birds find safety in flocks. First, a flock of goldfinch fill the nearby trees. Even in their drab olive winter plumage, these small birds appear vivid against the white backdrop. While I watch the birds gorge at the feeder, I notice how the outliers keep guard at the edge of the flock. In between, other birds move in toward the feeder, most noticeable when they flutter, causing snow to topple off a branch. It’s as if the birds are performing the avian equivalent of a Virginia Reel.
Flock by Flock
After the goldfinch, a flock of tufted titmice mob the feeder. In the black and white background, even these pastel gray-backed birds with pale orange flanks, offer color. With their pert eyes and tufted crest, they embody charming curiosity. They take off when the rowdy blue jays fly in, spilling seed and causing a ruckus. A flock of juncos peck the seeds up off the ground.
A Bird By Any Other Name
Between these flocks, a few solitary members of different species visit: a brilliantly red male cardinal. A hairy woodpecker with a red crest, and a small, reddish-purple bird that I know is either a house finch, a purple finch or a pine grosbeak. I never remember which is which, so I reach for my Peterson’s guide and leave it open, in case the raspberry colored creature returns. But even when it does, I think it’s too small for a grosbeak, but I still can’t distinguish it from a house finch or a purple one. I close the field guide and enjoy the sighting. Even without its proper name, it’s a beauty.