Wednesday, February 24, 2016

songbirds bolt away

songbirds bolt away
when I fill the seed feeders
all but one blind sparrow

Goldfinches, house finches and sparrows on the sunflower seed tubes, cardinals on the seed cake, woodpeckers on the suet cakes, a nuthatch on the peanut ball, juncos on the ground. But when I approach to refill the feeders with black-oil sunflower seeds and suet cakes, all the songbirds take off in a panic. One little brown job is still sitting on the bed of sunflower seed husks under the bench, its little head darting from side to side, but not flying away, even when I climb up on the bench to reach the seed cake feeder. I step down and peer at this solitary bird. From the stripes on its breast and the dark beak, it looks like a song sparrow. But its eyes appear to be squeezed shut. Oh, the poor little bird must be blind!

When I come back with my camera, the little song sparrow is still on the ground, though it has moved away from the bench. Finally, hearing the sound of my feet on the leaves, the bird takes off. I watch as it flies up along the slanted roof until it hits the shingles, then descends to land near the fence. I leave it in peace. Inside the sunroom, I recognize my blind bird among the other birds as it slowly flutters straight up to one of the tube feeders. It lands awkwardly on one of the perches and fends off a goldfinch who tries to chase it off. So perhaps it can see a bit, with one eye. How did the sparrow become blinded? Maybe another bird pecked its eye? Miraculously, this intrepid song sparrow manages to survive.

I wonder if its song will be even sweeter for being blind, like the blind harpist I saw in Peru, bending his ear to the strings and playing a love song with his sensitive fingers.

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