Friday, November 12, 2010

Tea Time for Englishmen

About this time of year I hang out my birdfeeders and keep them filled. Within minutes of their appearance, the birds start arriving. I like to think of them as Englishmen visitors. It comes from my abiding interest in 19th century literature.

The chickadees are the brash, but approachable, hansom cab drivers. They aren't intimidated if you stand out on the deck within feet (or closer) of the feeder. They come anyway, look you over, decide you're an OK chap, and go about their business.

The tufted titmice are the footmen on grand carriages--elegantly dressed but diminutive in importance.

The cardinals, of course, must be churchmen--dignified, full of authority, respected. Perhaps the other Englishmen give them too much distance--but not as much distance as they give the bluejays, lords of all they see, who scatter the rabble, take what they want, and strut around in their grand suits.

Nuthatches elude me. Are they the squires, the shop keepers and tradesmen, or the lawyers? They keep busy. They're efficient and neat. They know what they're about and they don't brook interference. Occasionally they lose patience with the cabbies and the footmen.

If I didn't like the downy woodpeckers so much, I would call them the highwaymen. It seems unfair to make them robbers, but they can get at anything. Perhaps they are the lawyers after all!

Ah! I have been momentarily blinded by the obvious. Highwaymen there are indeed: squirrels.

Whatever the birds do most of the day, I can hardly say. I do have things to do besides watch them. However, I have noticed that almost directly at noon, though the feeders have been lightly visited, they seem to show up at once and in great numbers. It must be time for tea!

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