Teenage Cardinals

Posted by Censor Librorum on Oct 19, 2006 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

One of the delights of living in Greenport is sitting in the breakfast nook watching nature. We decided we wanted a bird food tray close to the window, so we went to Agway in Southold to buy a “squirrel-proof” feeder. There is no such thing. Not ten minutes after it was installed the first squirrel hootched right up the pole, made herself comfortable, and started going through the black oil sunflower seeds so fast her little paws almost looked like a blur. A few birds gathered to look up from the lawn expectantly, and pecked at the seeds that dropped off. When she finally couldn’t stuff down another seed, she toppled off the feeder and scampered down the street to tell all her friends.

The elaborate hierarchy of neighborhood birds now composed itself in readiness for the feast. They included grackles, starlings, blue jays, sparrows, a tufted titmouse, and chickadees. Mourning doves made their presence felt. Ironic for a peace symbol, they peck the hell out of any bird that bothers them when they are feeding. Even blue jays give them a wide berth.

I am fond of them all, but my favorites are the cardinals. They are beautiful, striking. The mating pair sometimes beak-feed each other (how touching!) and the chicks, and have a very distinctive song. They are the first birds I see in the morning, and the last I see at nightfall.

The mating pair gave birth to a few baby cardinals this summer, and two of them have grown up to be teenage cardinals. At least I call them teenagers, with their punked-up feathers, attitude, and voracious appetite. A few days ago, I heard a racket at the feeder. It was an immature cardinal, demanding to be fed. It reminded me of another teenager a few years back, who used to empty out the refrigerator looking for snacks, eat dinner, finish off part of my dinner, and wander around the apartment an hour later hungry for something to eat. I would make him his “special” tuna sandwich, and bring it to him on a tray with a Snapple. “Some lesbian feminist,” my friends would snicker. They’re right, of course, but the Momma Bird instinctively takes over when she hears the chirps and peeps of her hungry chick.

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