Backyard Birds, Everyday Epiphany, humor, Outdoors

A Bird Not In The Hand

The other day I watched several YouTube videos (I can waste time with the best of them.) about feeding wild birds by hand. Wild fluff balls zipped in and paused on open hands of ordinary people – not a Disney princess in the bunch.

In the first video a young woman cross-country skied a mile into a forest located in Three Lakes, Wisconsin. She rested on a bench and held out a palmful of sunflower seeds. Before long a red-breasted nuthatch swooped in, perched on her outstretched hand, picked out a morsel, and zoomed away. A chickadee followed suit. Meditation music played in the background.

The next video featured a Canadian fellow in Mississauga, Ontario. More of an urbanite, his wild bird feeding experience occurred in Riverwood Park. Each morning city workers filled the birdfeeders. Like the cross-country skier, he held an open fist full of seed. Before long chickadees and nuthatches took advantage of his handout. He attributed the successful feeding event to squirrels. (I could tell by his tone that the guy begrudgingly credited the squirrels. He said, “Some may think squirrels are cute when they’re in the park. Some may think they are annoying when they’re in backyard feeders. Some may want them dead if they’re in the attic.” I’m thinking squirrels invaded his attic.) Apparently, the squirrels robbed the park feeders of all the sunflower seeds early on, leaving the dredges. Nuthatches and chickadees prefer sunflower seeds. If an open palm offered them, the birds were all in. He claimed it a meditative experience.

I could have a meditative experience.

I had sunflower seeds.

I had a palm.

I had chickadees and nuthatches.

I had a plan.

The temperature ranged in the negative bazillion degrees (give or take) so I dusted off my warmest ski pants and slipped them on. (I literally dusted them off. I hadn’t skied in over a decade.) A good sign – they still fit!

I offered sunflower seeds with a side of peanuts.

Scooping a container of mixed seeds heavy on the sunflower and a side of peanuts, I trekked through the backyard snow. I planted a folding chair near the bird feeder. Seated, I poured a palmful of seeds, extended my hand, and waited . . .

and waited . . .

and waited.

I waited FIVE WHOLE MINUTES and NO chickadees swooped, NO nuthatches zipped. Impatience weighed in.

Then a movement caught my eye. A rusty oak leaf dipped and rose in the updraft like a roller coaster. I thought about the wren house the oak held in the spring and the unseen babies that chirped for buggy treats.

Impatience backed away.


Great horned owls hooted from the pines on summer nights.

Ten minutes slipped away and no chickadees swooped, no nuthatches zipped.

The pine trees creaked as gusts waved through.

I thought about summer nights and the hooty great horned owl in the stand of pines.

Impatience faded.

The black walnut tree glistened,

Fifteen minutes passed and no chickadees swooped, no nuthatches zipped.

A glinting drew my eye upwards. Shimmering sun glistened from the black walnut tree branches.

I thought about the tree’s musky nuts that had littered the autumn lawn and how the tree now rested.

Impatience disappeared.

My plan didn’t work as imagined, but it worked in a way I didn’t imagine.

I peacefully reflected.

Someone, please, cue the meditative music.

12 thoughts on “A Bird Not In The Hand”

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