For the past week we have had a roadrunner hunting in and around our yard. Last Saturday we came home from errands to find him perched on the block wall in the back yard. This was the first time I had actually seen one in my yard, though I have seen them more recently in and around the neighborhood. To my surprise and delight he jumped down into the yard and proceeded to hunt bugs. With the eye of a predator he watched, lowering his head and tail in typical roadrunner hunting posture. Upon spying an insect he would pounce! Then I’d see him gobble the morsel, raise his head, crest and tail, then scurry off hunched over to another corner again. We watched him for 10 minutes or more before he hopped back over the fence to hunt another territory.
The roadrunner is not my only insect hunter, however. A cactus wren has been hopping about the yard and in and around my patio looking for bugs. This one must be a young one for he has a stumpy tail. It’s like a miniature version of a real cactus wren tail. The bird is also puffed up to a round ball and does not have the typical sleek profile of a cactus wren. It is, however a cactus wren with the long curved bill, the white eye line and the speckled breast over a dark breast patch. I like to watch this plump little fellow hop about the yard in search of breakfast.
The birds are such a delight to watch with their amusing antics and their variety of color, shape, and form. Still, one of the hazards of bird watching is window strikes. Anyone who loves birds and feeds the birds hates this by product of watching them. The birds see the outdoors reflected in the windows and try to fly into the scenery only to strike the windows and, either knock themselves unconscious, or fall down dead. I have taken steps to avoid this happening as much as possible but last night as the sun was setting in the west it shone through the transect window over the front door. My hallway is like a rifle barrel to the living room and straight beyond that is the picture window to the backyard patio. Gus and I were in the den talking when we heard the thump! I got up from my chair dreading what I would find.
Sure enough, a male house finch lay on his back on the cold cement. His little feet stuck into the air with clenched feet. For all appearances he was dead, but I had to find out, for if he was still alive, that cold patio would suck the life out of him. Cautiously I went out the door and picked the poor thing up. He was still alive and his eyes fluttered at my touch, but he did not struggle. I cupped him loosely in my hands and sat in a chair lending him the warmth of my own body. Then I sat there and prayed he would live and willed my life into his being. Gus watched from inside the house through the picture window.
The bird sat peacefully in my crossed palms. I watched him breath in and out with shallow breaths. I could feel its tiny claws in the center of my palm. I marveled at the delicate feathers and cursed my aging eyes which can’t see details as well. The bird suddenly extended a wing simultaneously rolling its head and closing its eyes. I breathed in sharply and prayed don’t die! Then it straightened from this contorted posture and seemed to rest there in my palms asleep.