When Suddenly Small Black Birds Appear

This is how it went with birds in the snow the other day at my house, the snow, although April-born and thus fat and wet and not so confident, still reaching to two inches and redressing everything.

I was at the kitchen window looking out when suddenly small, black birds appeared, instantaneously above our herb garden, banking left and down, and dropping in. Black manna. This snowy revelation.

And now the birds go hopping, flighty, bouncy, jittery, their sloped black tails keeping them upright and making it look easy. They feed in mass under the feeder, a few momentarily on the feeder. They take turns launching up and away for our decks, but only for a second.

They are the Dark-eyed Junco. Little sparrows that flit. Sparrows proud of their white bellies. 30 strong.


And then this happens. Four doves join. They drop in as a team and feed at will, yet cause no commotion. There is no fighting, no bickering. It’s junco and dove, the jittery and calm, as one.

This for maybe five more minutes, but then it is over. The juncos bolt, they don’t say why or where, they merely uplift and disappear.

So now there are doves only, five of them, carrying on as before around the feeder, until, tired out it seems, they hunker down in the snow and rest. They’re all facing the same way, eastward toward Pawtuckaway Mountain. Maybe they’re going that way. It’s not far, and besides, Pawtuckaway was once a volcano. If you’re a bird and you do Pawtuckaway, you get to fly over a volcano.

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