Birds, again

As is usual at this time of the year, I’m watching birds build their nests. Two sparrows, building nests in the same tree. Hopping over once in a while to tweet at one another. Showing each other bits of grass and fallen feathers, contemplating them with all the seriousness of people looking over upholstery in an expensive shop.

Here comes one of them, young, happy in its first nest ever, holding a bright yellow stalk of grass in its beak. These are rare now, for autumn is long past and winter almost over. Most of the grass on the ground is green, with feathery white heads waving in the breeze. But somewhere this little bird has found itself a beautiful stalk of grass, glowing in its colour and brightness: red at the root, orange-brown and yellow-tipped.

Having placed the stalk in its nest, fussed over it, moved it here and there, this little bird calls out to the older bird, who comes, cocks its head and inspects the nest in silence. The excited little one is chirping and hopping about on the branch, while the older one hops about close to the nest, looking it up and down, looking at the bright little stalk of grass, and tweeting back once in a while. It looks like it’s thinking of last year, when I saw it equally excited over a shiny piece of foil that it had found, and which the wind had blown away before the nest was built.

Finally the older one goes back to its own nest, and the younger one continues to build. It finds leaves and twigs, pieces of cotton, warm bits of fluff to line the nest, to make it comfortable. It flies over to the older one’s nest, chirps excitedly, and seems to wonder why the older one’s not excited too. It flies back to it nest and picks up the stalk of grass, as bright and beautiful as ever, but no longer the pride of the nest, and takes it to the older one. It lays it there, among the neat disorder of twigs, and chirps as if to say, “Take it”.

Watching them, I get the feeling that the older one would smile, if birds could smile. That it would show affection if it could, and that the gesture means much to it, though it doesn’t want the stalk. It picks up the stalk, and the birds rise together, with the stalk between them, in a movement that is exquisitely graceful in that split second. As I watch them, they fly away, and I can no longer see which has the beautiful stalk of grass.

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3 Responses

  1. Beautifully captured… I can actually envision it in my mind…

  2. wow. i miss the outdoors. you make me long for the place 🙂

  3. Thank you, both of you! 🙂

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