The other day I went for a wander to a local paradise called Shubenacadie Park, fondly known as Shubie. It’s good to walk there. The canal is filled with leaves and ducks and the occasional beaver. The walkways are covered with tame squirrels (of the tiny sort) and hovered over by irrational numbers of chickadees and blue jays and the occasional frustrated pigeon (unloved by most). The pathway is softened by years of pine- and leaf-fall and the placement of benches with plaques remembering loved family members. Most are perched high above eroded ground and I swing my legs like a kid when I sit on them.
The day I went the water was as smooth as ice, except when a graceful V was forming behind one of the ducks, swimming to and fro. I wonder if they watch us and wonder what we are doing, marking the same path around and around, headphones to our ears, puffing with exertion. I know I wonder about their wanderings in this small area.
Of course, all the animals were looking for a handout, this day before a big storm. The cheeky squirrels scampered right up to my leg before running away to screech from the trees, “No Food! No Food!”. The other squirrels, as is their wont, ignored the warning and kept on coming.
Chickadees followed me, springing from branch to branch, landing sideways as needed, black bead eyes carefully trained on my hands. I put my palm out, and though there was no food in it, one wee bird landed, its tiny wire legs and feet curling around my finger. It tasted my hand with a nip or two, and left my hand, still surfing the trees behind me in hope.
There is something so intoxicating in the trust of these small birds. These are so tiny, so infinitely edible to a prey species, and yet they sit, calmly, and appraise me. It’s such a gift.
I live in the downtown core, seeing only seagulls and pigeons and crows and starlings and the occasional blue jay. The tiny birds know better than to appear in the open. I haven’t befriended a crow as they rarely stop here, but I am gentling a pair of blue jays in the hope they will keep the starlings and pigeons at bay. Peanuts are my drug of choice. Like a dealer, I put out a handful or two each day. I want them to like my balcony.
They fly in every morning and afternoon to grab a peanut and shout their victory. My cat almost shakes his fur off in hunterish excitement – but of course he can’t catch them. Too unskilled and declawed by a previous owner, all he can do is chitter and waggle his bum before leaping out to chase them. They laugh from a safe distance and their sharp beaks intimidate. My fierce hunter creeps in and falls asleep to dream of their blue feathers between his jaws, the delightful crunch of bird bones…
I used to share my house once with a tiny parrotlet, who loved me. I let her down. I still feel guilt. She was my heart.
So, next time I go to Shubie, I’ll be sure to pack some seeds. Perhaps I can send an apology to my parrotlet via the bird network by sharing with birds less fortunate. And one day, I hope to share my life with a parrotlet again, once my murderous feline has shuffled off this mortal coil.
Until then, he gets my love and pats. He is a wonderful cat. I adore his grumpy/loving/sookie self.
But there is something so magical about the love of a bird.