Day 53: My Dad (and his birds)

A purple martin colony as they would appear on my dad's housing each spring. Dad was meticulous with having the housing just right for his birds.

A purple martin colony as they would appear on my dad’s housing each spring. Dad was meticulous with having the housing just right for his birds.

(Note: This is the first of several notes I’ll write to my Dad this year. He died from complications with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2012.)

Dear Dad,

To be honest, I thought for the longest it was senility and a general propensity to reclusiveness. I think you cared about those birds as much as anything else I’d seen.

A favorite photo of some female house finches on my back yard on a cold winter day.

A favorite photo of some female house finches on my back yard on a cold winter day.

You’d clean the housing sterile, repaint for the new season, systematically track the migration north, and at just the right moment (not too early, not too late) you’d raise the housing. And just about this time every spring they rewarded you with a season of pleasure. The purple martins arrived gracefully by the dozens. Nothing made you happier.

For the longest I wrestled with jealousy over how much you loved the birds, versus how much fun it was seeing you love something so simple and innocent. I’d never seen anyone sit outside for hours on end just watching birds fly around.

You surely loved “your birds.”

A goldfinch I captured in full spring plumage.

A goldfinch I captured in full spring plumage. He’s munching on some nyjer.

Now, all these years later, look at me. It raises minor panic if we’re low on bird seed and bad weather’s on the way.  I have 10 seed feeders in winter, a dozen hummingbird feeders in summer, and just this week I scrubbed my own martin housing in hopes of their arrival. Those birds are so elusive in the city. But every day I’m watching – just like you.

I wish you were here to see the little backyard habitat we’ve created. The birds love it and we have a bunch. Beautiful cardinals, gold finches, house finches, tufted titmice, several woodpecker varieties, carolina wrens, chickadees, upwards of 50 hummingbirds during the southern migration in August, blue jays, and the occasional indigo bunting. If the martins are coming it will be any day now.

Two carolina wrens acting goofy on some suet. Probably my favorite songbird in our backyard.

Two carolina wrens acting goofy on some suet. Probably my favorite songbird in our backyard.

We could sit back here for hours and watch, you and I. Even Dana has become a pretty good spotter. If you could see what we’ve done with the backyard birds in Ecuador you’d really be amazed.

Am I senile now, or just a recluse? I often wonder, and I bet you think that’s funny.

I miss having you around. We all do.

Your son,

Steve

 

2 thoughts on “Day 53: My Dad (and his birds)

  1. Great pics Steve. My own Dad was an avid bird hunter and an avid bird watcher also. That’s what they called bird people back then, before the word birders. Anyway, It was a era where folks weren’t labeled so harshly as they are today. A guy was just a guy who hunted and watched birds, it didn’t seem mutually exclusive or static. That still appeals to me. Sorry just a little rant. Phil,

    Like

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