Monday, February 26, 2007

The goldfinches are back in Portland

Last year around this time, I was gazing out at the back yard and I noticed a swarm of little, gold-colored birds fighting for space at the thistle feeder that hangs from a branch of the Japanese maple. "Hey," I said to David, "there are parakeets at the thistle feeder!"

So he came over, looked out at the birds, looked at me (with a faintly pitying glance) and replied, "Uh, no. Those are goldfinches, hon."

In my own defense, City Gurl that I am, I'd never seen goldfinches outside of books. The sad truth is, even if I'd been walking through a flock of goldfinches, I probably would have ignored them, or tried to shoo them away. In Life Before the MonSter, birds didn't make a blip on my radar screen (unless one of them pooped on my car, in which case my reaction was momentary annoyance and then indifference.

Sad, huh?

Now, the comings and going of the birds in our back yard is a constant joy - and very interesting, indeed. So the I was pretty excited when I noticed that the goldfinches (or maybe, at this point, lesser goldfinches) had returned to our back yard. At times, the flurry of activity around the sunflower chip feeders is dizzying; a few days ago, one of the house finches bonked himself against the dining room window (one assumes in a frenzy of sunflower-chip lust), making a loud THUD in the process. Ack.

The bird equivalent of the jungle-drums must be in full force, 'cause every tree in the back yard is filled with birds - perching, swooping over to the feeders and jockeying for one of the perches, and swooping back to the pear tree or the Japanese maple. It's not necessarily a graceful process, but it's endlessly fascinating.

Once again, I have to stop and thank the MonSter (a term for Multiple Sclerosis coined by my friend Cindy, a fellow sufferer) for forcing me to stop and pay attention to what's going on around me. There's a lot to watch and think about when the pace is slowed and attention focused on the here-and-now.


Revalani said...

We occasionally saw flocks of goldfinches at Sea Ranch. Jer and I eventually figured out that they have a characteristic feeding behavior when they encounter a meadow of ripe grasses. One alights close to the top of a stalk and bends it down, then jumps off. The grass stalk flips back up, releasing a bunch of seeds in the process, which the whole flock then descends on. They do this over and over; it's amazing to watch. And they're such gorgeous little critters, too.

Libbi said...

Wow! I would've loved to see that action!

Of course, it's snowing in Portland at the moment, and I assume the goldfinches are hiding somewhere protected at the moment...