WHEELING THROUGH THE SUMMER SKY, perching in the treetops, feeding their young, birds go about their business as generally unconcerned with the human race as the human race is generally unconcerned with them. But every so often they do something that catches our attention. Canada geese heading south in the shape of a V. A white-throated sparrow grieving over poor Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody. A cardinal darting through the shrubbery like a flame. For a moment or two even the dullest of us dimly realizes the world would be a poorer place without them.
One wonders if from time to time birds feel the same way about us. A man with an umbrella walking in the rain. A woman in a bathing suit picking peas. The patter song of a two-year-old in the sandbox. Do birds every once in a while see us as we see them, as basically irrelevant but occasionally worth the cocking of a beady eye, the flicker of a wing, the first few notes of a song?
- Originally published in Beyond Words