Friday, 4 May 2012
birds of a feather
Hardly a week goes by in this tree house of ours that we do not hear a familiar thud on the window. If we run quickly enough the feathers are still drifting to the ground when we get outside. The little bird whose flight path was rudely interrupted by a pane of glass will be lying on its back with its legs in the air, its chest beating frantically, its eyes' glazed. A couple we have had to bury but more have been nursed back to health in the loving hands of Darcy, who would like more than anything to have a little bird who would stay with him forever.
The spotted pardalote is his favourite, and the one which seems drawn most often to our windows that stretch up into the forest canopy. It is tiny and beautiful, its wings patterned with spots as intricate as an Aboriginal dot painting. Darcy cradles them carefully in his hands while he wanders around the house and garden. I encourage him to find a safe spot for them outside where they can recover from their shock and fly away. But he seems to know when they are ready, and they are calm and content in his hands, fluffing their feathers out to guard against the cold once I insist that he places them on a flat rock out of reach of Quinn's inquisitive grasp.
The bigger birds of the forest canopy are attracted to our house for entirely different reasons. They know that our balcony is a reliable feeding ground and the magpies and parrots come to feast on toast crusts and crumbs scattered by our boys across the decking. Once or twice we have left the balcony door open and a particularly bold bird has ventured inside to feed at the dining table. We have had magpies perched on the dining chairs and parrots flapping around the rafters in the kitchen. We have learned to keep the door closed.
We were told this week that an offer we made on a house has been accepted and we will be saying goodbye to the forest to move to our new home out in the sunshine in two months. As the sun dips to the north and the shadows come to reclaim their wintery resting place I am happy to be leaving. But I will miss the peace and privacy of life amongst the trees. I suspect that there will be no more spotted pardalotes stopping by to knock on the window at breakfast time.
One flew into the big picture glass window that frames our glimpse of the inlet through the trees as we sat and ate our lunch today. We peered down into the bushes to see where it had landed and spotted the grey underbelly of a bird hanging by one foot upside down in the camellia. As we watched it swung itself upright, its spots striking in the diffused light of a cloudy noontime. Darcy sang to it through the glass and it flew away into the branches of the pine tree on the driveway. My little bird whisperer. It is a gift.