Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Suddenly, arrivals #phenology

This morning a male Baltimore oriole made my day by visiting the grape jelly feeder. (The pictures were take through a window plus screen so the quality isn't what I'd like.) The first ruby-throated hummingbird (a female ) also arrived today. Yesterday one was reportedly seen about 20 or 25 miles South of us so she was sort of expected.

first Baltimore oriole of the season
first Baltimore oriole of the season
Photo by J. Harrington

Out at the front feeder, a mob of four or so blue jays started a gang fight with two or three squirrels over possession of the feeder seeds that had ended up on the ground. (Do you remember the Sharks and the Jets from West Side Story?)

oriole on the grape jelly feeder
oriole on the grape jelly feeder
Photo by J. Harrington

How do birds find feeders, especially an oriole and a grape jelly feeder? There's lots of activity at the sunflower seed feeders, and that may attract an oriole to the general vicinity, but how does a bird identify that grape jelly isn't sunflower seeds in a glass cup? I'm guessing they taste test things but I'm not sure.

Here's an oriole's reminder that Mother's Day is coming up.

That Woman


Sarah Getty, 1943


Look! A flash of orange along the river’s edge--
“oriole!” comes to your lips like instinct, then
it’s vanished--lost in the foliage,

in all your head holds, getting on with the day.  
But not gone for good. There is that woman     
walks unseen beside you with her apron
  
pockets full.  Days later, or years, when you least    
seem to need it--reading Frost on the subway,    
singing over a candled cake--she’ll reach

into a pocket and hand you this intact    
moment--the river, the orange streak parting 
the willow, and the “oriole!” that leapt

to your lips.  Unnoticed, steadfast, she gathers      
all this jumble, sorts it, hands it back like 
prizes from Crackerjack.  She is your mother,

who first said, “Look! a robin!” and pointed,   
and there was a robin, because her own
mother had said to her, “Look!” and pointed, 

and so on, back to the beginning: the mother, 
the child, and the world.  The damp bottom 
on one arm and pointing with the other: 
       
the peach tree, the small rocks in the shallows,    
the moon and the man in the moon.  So you keep on, 
seeing, forgetting, faithfully followed;   

and you yourself, unwitting, gaining weight,
have thinned to invisibility, become
that follower.  Even now, your daughter

doesn’t see you at her elbow as she walks
the beach.  There! a gull dips to the Pacific,
and she points and says to the baby, “Look!”


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