A few weeks ago I found the tiny mangled body of a bird outside of our stoop. I imagine a cat must have gotten it, or it died of natural causes. I picked it up and placed it between my althaea and mugwort plants. Today, while examining my mugwort for upcoming full moon cutting, I noticed the little birds body was still there. I was surprised it didn't disappear by scavenging racoons and neighborhood cats that prowl our yard. It's little skull was sticking up neatly out of the dirt, well cleaned by nature.
This tiny skull belongs to the bushtit. It's the smallest bird in North America by weight, right next to the hummingbird. His little skull is smaller than the tip of my finger joint! I feel pretty lucky to have such a curio.
Birds hold a very special place in my heart, thanks to my wonderful grandmother who subscribed me to Birds and Blooms when I was about 10 years old. This imbedded in me a deep love of bird watching. Anytime I heard a call or saw a bird I couldn't recognize, I'd go on a hunt for information to learn all I could about its range and habits. I wanted so badly to see Cedar Waxwings when I was young, it wasn't until I was crossing a bridge in Iowa City, Iowa at age 22 that I suddenly realized I was surrounded by a huge flock of them! And I saw them for the first time in my life. If you ask my partner, I was ridiculously excited. Pretty sure bystanders thought I was crazy.
Depending on the species, birds are messengers, tricksters, symbols of purity and love. Bushtits to me, are the embodiment of joy, thriftiness, tranquility and a cohesive family. They often travel in large groups tree to tree combing for insects. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you'll encounter a massive flock of them while walking through the forest. One moment it'll be quiet, and the next you'll be surrounded by what feel like millions of the tiniest fluff balls. No matter when or where you spot them, they are merrily chirping away paying no mind to who's watching them. If you're still enough, they will let you get remarkably close to them while they're foraging. They have the brightest eyes and most content and happy expression.
Birding adventures are a constant. My current hope, is to find out who it is that makes this eerie trilling sound deep in the forests. I hear this call only in summer and I've never seen the culprit. With some binoculars and luck, maybe I'll find out.