The Birdlings

HT Drive (1 of 1)-9

First day living in Tennessee I saw a grown man in a panic swinging his arms in erratic motions, attempting to shield himself from a tiny creature swooping down to peck at him in strategic intervals.

Parked at a stoplight when the event unfolded, we weren’t sure whether to open the door and lead this unknown stranger to safety or roll up the windows for our own protection. The traffic light turned green, and it was no longer our decision. Whatever this man did to cause this bird to sweep down on him was between the man and the bird, and our imaginations could only guess his fate.

Somewhat of our “welcome to Tennessee” moment, we viewed the event as a possible foreshadowing of things to come living on the Mississippi Delta, home to hundreds of bird species.

I’ve never been called a “bird lover.” I like birds, but never felt an affection toward them as they always seemed disconnected. Beautiful, but I never related to their experience in the way I could with a house pet. During our first weeks in Tennessee, I too found myself as a target of their unpredictable behavior, contorting my body in violent outbursts to avoid their abrupt flight patterns.

Now living even closer to the Mississippi River than our initial location, amid an abundance of southern red oaks, I have become more familiar with different types of birds and even recognize a few of their unique behaviors and characteristics.

Amongst the cast include the Great Blue Heron, an Egret, Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, Mourning Doves, Cardinals, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Goldfinch, Brown-headed Cowbird, and one of my favorites, the Indigo Bunting.

The Indigo Bunting sustained an unfortunate death after colliding head-on with our front window. Tragic as the event was, it made me realize how much I am growing to love these celestial beings and that I have become attached to them in the short time we’ve lived here.

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