No, I’m not talking about the micro-blogging site (although you can find me on there now, too – follow me here). I’m talking about the racket the birds are making at the bird feeder. They are incredibly noisy. The sound of birds chirping isn’t exactly the auditory connection you make with the middle of winter, is it? Birds go with spring, 5:30 AM, sunrise, unable to sleep. Well, this morning (it’s a Saturday, so I got to sleep in) the sparrows, juncos and finches at the bird feeder were doing their best to get me up at about 8:00, not long after it got light.

Actually, no, they had no idea that this great lump of humanity who fills up the seeds in their buffet was trying to sleep just around the corner from Chez Birdy (Chez Oiseau?). They were just bickering over the food. It probably goes something like this: “Hey, move over! Hey, that was my seed! Hey, hey, you got three black sunflower seeds last time, hey, let me at it, it’s my turn now! Hey, out of the way! Hey, you got to mate with that pretty chick last season, at least you could let me at the millet! Hey, quit picking on me! Hey, I want those! Eeeep cheep cheep, movement at the window!” [Everyone flutters away.] “Hey, all clear now! Hey, let me have those! Hey, I saw that seed first! Hey…”

Here’s the bird feeder progression over the last month. From no snow and bitter cold, to a little snow, to a massive dump on Monday, to a thaw the last couple of days. As soon as there is any access to the feeder, the little chirpers are back again, and bickering. “Hey, that’s my seed! Hey, let me have that! Hey…”

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Life, the Universe, and Bird Feeder Bickering. The original Twitter.

Blank Brain and Winter Birds

birds (1) I’ve got a serious case of blank brain right now. I just haven’t come up with anything wise, witty or weird to say on here – or at least haven’t been able to remember it long enough to put on screen (I had one or two really great blog posts plotted out – at 3:00 AM when I was lying awake with insomnia. Alas, they have vanished into the abyss of post-insomnia early morning sleep). So that’s why there’s been a bit of a dearth of postings here lately.

Of course, what’s in the forefront of my otherwise blank mind right now is my stories. The sequel to Seventh Son is actively in the works, and coming really soon! It’s largely a winter story, and was much easier to write at this time of year than Book #3, which is set around Summer Solstice. Maybe I should take a quick trip Down Under, and just live in summer for a while to keep that story moving forward. Any New Zealanders want to send me a plane ticket and put me up for a few weeks?

birds (3)Speaking of winter, I’ve been watching the birds bickering over seeds on my balcony bird feeder. And I got to wondering: how can they even survive the winter? At the beginning of December for several days in a row we had a cold snap where it was -15° C (in °F, that’s, umm, really really cold). How can those tiny little bodies make it through those temperatures without turning into little frozen lumps? But from what I could tell, they weren’t particularly bothered; they just puffed up their feathers a bit more than normal and became birdie puffballs instead of birdcicles. And then there were the ducks on the lake: the water was forming a rime of ice, and the ducks were still merrily paddling around in the unfrozen bits. That’s crazy – hasn’t anybody told them that warm-blooded creatures should have their feet freeze off in ice water?

Maybe it’s because they don’t know that that they can survive it. That was the theory I heard a little boy proclaim once, when I wasn’t all that big myself, about how birds can survive sitting on power lines. He was wondering aloud why they didn’t get killed by the electric power surge, and then he came to the conclusion that maybe it was because they didn’t know that by rights they should. From my superior vantage point of the ripe old age of seven or eight I was feeling vastly amused at his infantile theories (although I didn’t have anything better to offer, I figured that probably wasn’t it). But now I’m starting to wonder if he didn’t have something after all. How do birds survive the winter? It’s quite a miracle. And yes, I know there are wise explanations which are only a click of a Google button away – but really, when you think about it, it’s just simply astounding. Quite wonder-full, in fact.

Life, the Universe, Blank Brains and Winter Birds. Wishing you (and the birds) a good move into the New Year!

winter sunset
Midwinter Sunset