It’s not much fun having a bad cold. Besides feeling like you’ve been run over by a truck, if you’re made to stay home and rest it can be really boring. And when it came my turn to be sick this season, I spent the day sitting there pouting, staring out our back window at Leitner Creek with my head propped up in my hands. But soon, because I had to sit still for more than five seconds, I began to notice details outside that I’ve rarely paid much attention to.
It was a busy day in the thick green foliage surrounding the creek. There were doves hanging out on the bird feeder, bobbing their heads and picking at the seed and as you might expect, a couple of squirrels were scurrying around on their daily commute, jumping from tree to tree. Just past them in an Oak tree, I noticed an unusual looking “green flycatcher”. When it quickly flew off I leaned forward and started searching the trees, because it was really getting busy outside. There on a cypress tree was a large Pileated Woodpecker, working its way around the trunk, searching for bugs and on a feeder right in front of me, a pair of beautiful Painted Buntings, apparently having just arrived for the winter, were comically burying their heads deep into the feeder. A flash of bright red caught my eye and there, further down the creek, was a pair of Cardinals flitting around on a cocoa plum bush.
I leaned forward across the table some more; my head turned to the right, barely touching the window so I could watch the pair fly peacefully up the creek. Very, calm… very tranquil. “BLAM”… Something slammed loudly into the window right in front of my face! It sounded like a gun going off! I reeled backwards in cold medicine induced slow motion. “Arrrrrrrrrgh!” I bellowed, sounding strangely like Arnold Schwarzenegger. As I began to realize that I hadn’t been shot I looked back out the window just in time to see that a dove had just performed a “Kamikaze maneuver” straight into our window! A Red Shouldered Hawk had dive-bombed our bird feeder leaving behind a cloud of dove feathers and panicked doves frantically scattering in every direction. The hawk came to a rest on a custard apple branch and calmly sat there admiring his handiwork.
Even though I’m not a professional birder and even though all doves pretty much look alike, there’s at least one that I can pick out of a line up. It has left a perfect “dove smudge” imprint of his surprised bird face, wings a skewed to the sides, on our window. Actually, as I look at the smudge now, it’s probably the same expression that was on my face at the instant of impact. Of course, the dove (unless it has window pane induce amnesia) probably won’t ever forget what I look like either.