Vagneur: Going where bluebirds take me
They didn’t come this afternoon.
It was windy, my hat kept blowing off, and that put me in a bad mood. It doesn’t pay to cuss the wind — it can’t hear you for the howl. Besides, birds don’t like to be flying in the strong wind, but it made me worry. Were they OK? Had something happened? Had a predator interrupted their tireless work at putting the nest together?
There are two of them, mountain bluebirds, who have been coming here for the past two years. This is their third spring. They’ve taken possession of the largest birdhouse, built by my good friend Steve Gehring, or as he otherwise calls himself, Ecotiques Steve. He knows how to build birdhouses. You can find him on Facebook.
Usually, I take a lunch break at the house for about 45 minutes, but this spring, the respite has gone on for an hour, hour-and-a-half, while yours truly sits like a cat in waiting, watching the antics of these two birds just outside my living room window.
As you might expect, the female has been doing most of the work, although I get a certain sense that the whole procedure is more stressful for the male. He’s the pretty one, you know, mostly all blue, or as Thoreau said, “Carrying the sky on his back.” But he has issues.
I’m no ornithologist, and it took a while to figure out, but maybe understanding has come my way. The female flies up to the porch or lands on the birdhouse with some dead grass in her beak, sometimes a small feather, and fidgets around the area, back to the deck railing, onto the birdhouse, sticking her head in the opening of the house, but not going in. Flits around some more.
Once the male appears in the tree opposite the house, he spends a little time darting around, letting his presence be known, maybe even landing on the birdhouse with his mate for a couple of seconds, but then he’s back to the tree. The female nest architect then dives through the opening, into the interior and disappears for what might be a minute or so. Sometimes just seconds.
The male is, in my learned capacity, protecting the female from other bluebird males, single for whatever reason, who see the female with her own house as prime mating material. Maybe, or is he protecting the female for his own best interests? Ah, they’re not talking, but a few beers at the local watering hole would likely get a few scenarios on the table. Err, in the house. Or somewhere.
In spite of my wavering and uneducated eye from the catbird seat, it is clear that they mate in the tree very close to my house in the front yard. The large picture window gives me a reasonably clear view of most activity in acres of outdoor space.
Several months ago, I wrote about a murder of crows, which inadvertently led to the owners of Crow Farm in Oregon, which of course led to a column about John Smith, the founder of Grassroots Television, author of “Aspen/Dreams and Dilemmas” (with Peggy Clifford), and his lovely bride, Catherine. The wonder now becomes: Where are these bluebirds taking me?
Bluebirds come with a rich history, of legend, myth, of hope and joy, of change, happiness, knowledge, enlightenment, and many other things. Most poignantly, at least to me, is the thought by some native tribes that bluebirds represent a connection between the living and those who have passed away. Does their visit foretell an as yet unknown reason?
For those feeling lost and alone on a rainy, cold, spring day, think back to Dorothy stuck somewhere on a yellow brick road with a trio of unusual characters, homesick, and wishing for a way to magically get back home.
“Someday, I’ll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far behind me. Where troubles melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops. That’s where you’ll find me.
“Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly. Why, oh why can’t I?”
Tony Vagneur writes here on Saturdays and welcomes your comments at email@example.com.