|DooDah is a mess
Ever since Studley Windowson faded out of our lives, I have become a backyard nuisance. I am a pest. I need another personal bird. Every bird out there can sense it and most find it alarming.
The crows are coming along nicely. Dickens and DooDah, along with their occasional companions Auxiliary Dickens and Ancillary DooDah, are accustomed to us and, I’d like to think, well-disposed. They’re still a little skittish, but they’re no longer so skedaddlish. Without question they show up when we do and project thought-images of peanuts in our direction. That’s not the same as landing on us with delicate chickadee teeny-feety perfection and a pure heart, but crows are larger and stabbier, so it’s probably for the best. Anyway, we’re working it out.
But I can hear a single chickadee chip-note from anywhere in the house. I’ll pop right up and run outside with mealworms. My mealworms are getting senile. I’ve had them for well over a year in the refrigerator and the ones that are still alive might very well be stringy or tough or morose, but they still move around a little. The chickadees hang out in the hibiscus. I approach them like a total creeper. And they don’t exactly fly away. They sit in the shrubbery as I approach, and until I get my hand all the way in there they’ll stay put and look at me.
Out of pity.
They think about it for a minute, and the first one says to the other, You know, that’s getting a little aggressive, and the second one goes Oh, that one’s okay, she used to be friends with my dad, and the first one says Kind of stalkerish, though, and the second one is all What’s the matter, you scairt? and they discuss it among themselves, and then the first one says Suit yourself, I’m outa here, and the second one, who has held out just a little longer than he really wanted to anyway, says Oh, okay, if you’re going, I’ll come with you and make sure you’re all right.
I know at least one of them knows what I’ve got. I think he is one of Studley’s more recent kids. Once last summer I was feeding Studley in the hibiscus and this kid kept getting a little closer and watching very carefully. When he got within a foot of my hand, Studley ran him the hell off. So I’m figuring now that he’s not being supervised, he’s going to go for it. Any day now.
After all, Studley took a little time at first too. It was breeding time, and he needed a boatload of grubs because of all the beaks to feed, and at first I put a few out on the windowsill. Once he spied them and started looking for them there, I put one on my hand and edged it out. He was wary and then finally went for it like the big brave buttonheaded beauty he was. After that, the clip was off the chip bag. He landed on me, he landed on Dave, and eventually he landed on everyone we knew. Any friend of ours was a friend of Studley’s. The man was a total ambassador.
So what I’m thinking is if I can just get this one fellow to give it a whirl, I’ll be in ’em. Or a nuthatch. I’d totally be fine with a nuthatch buddy. All of which means I am now spending an unconscionable amount of time standing under the seed feeder like a statue with a hand full of worms, waiting.
Studley was easy to tell from the others. I did get to where I could tell Studley and Marge apart from the back–one of them had a slightly wider white edge to the wings, but I could never remember which was what. Mainly, I knew Studley was the one that landed on me and had a bum foot, and that left Marge for the other.
So now I have at least two standard chickadees loitering around. They’re identical. But now there’s a new, third kid in town. A distinctive chickadee. It’s almost all white on the back. Oh my god.
It’s Ghost Studley!