Yesterday morning in a burst of energetic inspiration I spent nearly three hours trimming back all manner of growth in the garden. Trumpet vine largely, which is gorgeous and unruly. Also spent leaves from the hollyhock, and those flowers on the butterfly bushes past their prime and a few roses needing deadheading, though that’s a daily task. Looking around quite satisfied with my efforts I turned on the hose to offer a parting light spraying, a kind of benevolent and sacred gesture, setting the garden in good stead for the heat that would soon follow. I chose to ignore a modest hole in my hose, which I attempted to fix with duct tape. Hahaha. I pointed the fine spray in the direction of the butterfly bushes, knowing they would appreciate the extra attention. Glancing down at the muddy patch I’d inadvertently created imagine my surprise to see this!
What? What? A fledgling?? What?
Listening to its little peep I knew at once that it was a towhee fledgling. And, in fact, it brought to mind that I’d vaguely been aware all week that I’d been listening to this very sound in the garden and half heartedly asking myself if it was a towhee or not, as it seemed to be more persistent and somehow lighter. I’d even thought to explore, but had not yet, thinking perhaps it was not a towhee, but some other bird with which I was not familiar. But here was my answer, miraculously at my feet. For while there is a towhee family that lives in my garden and has for years, I’d never ever seen one of their fledglings before. Had I not heard the little voice of this wee creature I would not even have recognized what it was. For California towhees are dark brown, plain birds, and, very obscure. I’m betting that people who do not observe their gardens closely would not even know towhees were living on their property, as they tend to live close to the ground, fly under bushes, stay largely out of sight, except for sudden bold flights directly across one’s path, but instantly in hiding. They are incredibly well camouflaged. And other than the sudden darting on wing they blend into the background very nicely.
So it was very out of character, I would have thought, for a fledgling to appear in such an unguarded open place. But lucky me!
As you might imagine, I rather thought that would be the end of my sighting. Right? But no. An hour later I reemerged into the garden and this little fellow was sitting in a plum tree, peep peep peeping! I’m thinking by now this is rather extraordinary. Remember, I’m capturing this on an iPhone. My camera is several inches away!
The adventure did not end in the plum tree. No. Because by now my mother instincts have kicked in and I confess I am no mother bird. I lose all objectivity when it comes to fledglings, well documented on this very blog in relation to my friendship with scrub jays. So now I’m invested. So when I came out later in the afternoon, looking about for this little baby bird, I was horrified that the peep peeping was coming from my neighbor’s yard. And they have cats. And a new rambunctious terrier from the pound! That drama was rectified after finding not only my new charge, but a sibling. In a tree. Up high. (And, yes, one of their cats was already spying on them.) I forced myself into the house muttering a necessary mantra, “I am not a mother bird. I am not a mother bird.” Went and watched a movie. Whew!
But here’s the best part. At dusk I was out in the garden again, looking (of course) and was utterly amazed to find this.
This morning I went out and was gratified to hear the baby towhees making their way around the neighborhood, getting to know their new world. Parents were nearby attending their exploration. Blessings on their journey.
Love and birdie blessings,
Book News: Most exciting news is that Barnes and Noble buyers have placed a substantial order of copies of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy to place in their brick and mortar stores! Send me pics if you see one, will you?? 🙂 Also, September 1st an excerpt of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy will be published in Maine’s Still Points Arts Quarterly. Thank you.
Posted on August 4th, 2013 by Kathryn
Filed under: Animals