There are some pretty flashy birds flitting around the Spinster Ornithology Compound, but few of them ever seem inclined pose for our cameras. My Gaudy Bird Perching Reticence theory is that, because the air is solid live oak pollen at the moment and it’s blasting nonstop at 30 MPH, the branches they perch on are not guaranteed, in weather like this, to stay attached to the trees. So they biff off lest they find themselves riding a twig of death on a downdraft to hell.
Alternatively, there are those who would aver that the weather has nothing to do with it. I might, they observe, get more exotic shots if I weren’t too lazy to lug the giant bird lens around instead of just keeping it pointed out the lab window on a tripod and setting it to go off every 15 seconds, just in case a cormorant or a blue booby or a Peking duck happens to fly in and perch on the ledge. Admittedly, this method has been producing a somewhat unremarkable result. I may have to rethink it.
Meanwhile, I give you the plain brown Eastern Phoebe. The Eastern Phoebe just laughs at our ceaseless tornadoes. It cleverly nests in an I-beam down at the Spinster motor pool garage, and hangs around on solid objects like this rusty steel pipe fence. It’s no Painted Bunting, but it does something no other bird does. It says “fee-bee, fee-bee.”
That’s right. This post is nothing but an excuse to put up pictures of the only birds I’ve been able to snap recently. Small brown birds.
Maybe you could give a rat’s ass about small brown birds. I was once like you.
Before founding the world-famous Spinster Ornithology Compound, I was a dolt and an ignoramus. I lived in the city and had no time for small brown birds. I had places to go and straight girls to convert. When I gave any thought to birds at all, it was to be annoyed that their poop was always all over the last empty table at Jo’s. Furthermore, I believed that every bird that wasn’t an ostrich — that is, all small brown birds — were sparrows. One dismisses sparrows on accounta their ubiquity (this is a grave mistake, perhaps because sparrows are in fact an invading alien cyborg species and perhaps not; it remains to be seen, but in any event that’s another story).
But you’d be amazed how many small brown birds aren’t sparrows at all. For example, the Carolina wren.
This wren usually implements a cloaking device, so feel free to congratulate me on having spotted one. It creeps up tree trunks eatin’ bugs, which is a behavior I wouldn’t mind being able emulate in these tough times. Hordes of them invisibly infest the real estate directly outside my bedroom every morning. They go “chirt-chirt-chirt-chirt-chirt-chirt-chirt-chirt” really loud. It’s the kind of noise that, if you hit the sack early the night before, compels you spring from your TempurPedic singing “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” but if you have a hangover, it turns you into a wrenicidal maniac.
“Chirt” is the official designation, by the way. I did not make it up. Birds of North America, the bird-nerd website of record, also lists the following interesting phrases in connection with the Carolina wren: cheer, ti-dink, dit, chatter, rasp, chirt, pi-zeet, scee, pee, growl, nyerk, and tsuck.