It’s the longest day of the year, with the actual solstice at 2:43 p.m. I woke at half past 4 this morning, enveloped in the cacophony of birdsong floating in through my open bedroom window. Juncos, robins, swallows, sparrows, and even the most ordinary of crows were greeting the solstice as if this might not even be a long enough day for all the life they have to live. Soon after my eyes opened, I heard the buzzing hum of a hummingbird (so aptly named). Three species visit a feeder attached to the bedroom window: the Black-chinned, Calliope and Roufus.
Another feeder attaches to the window at my writing desk. Here is the bird’s eye view.
As I search for the right word, or struggle over how to chain ideas together, I watch the hummers arrive and perch only a few feet away from me. I am so close to them that I can see their tongues emerge from their long, needled beaks. The tongues flash silver in the light as they reach for the center of my feeder’s yellow plastic daisy. This curiously inviting gateway leads to sugar water. They seem to enjoy every drop.
Throughout the pandemic, as my isolation has stretched beyond even the needs or desires of a writer, I have communed with the birds. Untouched by human fears and protocols, they have displayed their own dramas. In early April, Mr. & Mrs. Duck waddled across the lawn in their courtship phase. In late April and into May, a greedy crow spilled and gobbled all the seed from another feeder as it wobbled under the weight of his giant black form. Even once the lockdown began to ease, life continued unabated for the winged ones. Last week, a young robin recently hopped beside the mother, who patiently demonstrated how to dig for worms. Every second worm she tossed to her hungry child. This week, trilling sparrows splash happily in the bath I have set up using a flower pot saucer. And then there are the hummingbirds. After their tongues probe for nectar, they lift off, gullets brimming. I want to follow them. I want to see the nest, to watch them spill that sugar into the mouths of babes.