But you don't necessarily get a good look at all of your visitors.
One in particular became known to me as a master of the "seen in the corner of my eye" or the "dive into the oleanders" or even the "hiding behind the palo verde blossoms." I never saw enough for me to be able to identify the little bird.
A few years passed, and I was finally able to piece together enough sightings to know that this master of camouflage was a verdin-- a tiny songbird who's a permanent resident of the arid southwestern United States and northern Mexico. The adults have a gray body, yellow head, and chestnut-colored "shoulder patches." Now that I knew what was avoiding me, my task was clear: I had to take a photograph that would pass my own personal inspection.
When did I move here? 1981? Well... it took until the year 2011 for me to be able to take a photo of a verdin that I was happy with, and I'm convinced that the only reason why I was able to was because of Wilbur.
|I know you're in there!|
Wilbur thought nothing of coming to the window and trying to look in at me. When he was still a youngster and hadn't grown his adult plumage, he'd come and perch on the window, crane his neck, try to peer inside, and chirp away ten to the dozen. Most people would take a look at the photos and think he was talking to his reflection in the window, but he wasn't.
|It's hot out here!|
Little Wilbur had figured out that if he clung to the window screen, he'd get the benefit of the cool air moving in and out. Young birds in particular suffer in the heat of the desert summer. Wilbur was smart enough to keep himself cool. Of course, he'd also hold a "conversation" with Denis and me while he clung to the screen.
Although I've been witness to verdin parents showing their offspring the best places to eat in our back garden for about five years, I still hadn't taken a photo that I really liked.
Denis had to trim the palo verde trees this week because they were hanging over the pool and chucking too much filter-clogging debris into the water. Palo verdes are a rich source of Wilbur's main food staple: insects. I got to sit in here and listen to Wilbur cuss Denis out to a fare-thee-well, and for some reason, Denis looks out the windows before he goes outside. I've never seen Wilbur dive-bomb anyone, but there's always a first time, and he does have a needle-sharp beak.
Pardon the horrible quality of the photo to the right. It serves as a reminder for me to wash that window quickly because I've seen so many marvelous things through it. Many were the years that these wary little birds would never ever let me see anything like them feeding their young. Now they'll do it while I'm sitting in plain sight.
I tend to think that it's all because of Wilbur and his street smart curiosity. Deep down, he doesn't trust me a bit, but he's observant and likes to have some fun with the resident human. If he knew I had this photo, he'd have a fit. I can just hear him now....
|The photo Wilbur doesn't know about....|