Mourning of the Pine Siskin

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One of the pine siskins in our backyard flew into our window and died.

We still get snow at our house in New Mexico in March, and my heart sank as I watched the flakes gently blanket its lifeless body.

It was my fault.

That’s what I get for encouraging them. The birds.

That’s what happens because I want to attract them to my home so I can take pictures of them and study them and draw them into my daily life.

I was suddenly overcome with feelings of guilt and shame. I felt helpless as I stood over the dead bird.  A tear dropped straight down as if to kiss the sweet bird goodbye.

Our backyard birds are just beautiful, and I’ve taken great care to place our feeders close enough to the windows so that if any bird flies into the window it shouldn’t be hard enough to result in their death. But, it does happen on occasion.

This was one such occasion and it broke my heart.

Then, out of nowhere, I got this crazy idea and I blurted out to my husband, “Would it be weird to collect the bird and have it stuffed by a taxidermist? It is such a pretty bird and I could put it out on display here at the cabin.”

Finch Fight 2He gave me that look. The look that indicates he has no response for such an absurd idea.

But I’m not so sure it was an absurd idea.

The pine siskin is in fact a beautiful bird. Yes, they monopolize my thistle feeders.  Yes, they can eat me out of house and home.  But their brown streaked acrobatic flashes of yellow are fascinating to watch as they flutter in between feeders.  And, I’m grateful to have them visit my backyard as they are known to range widely and erratically across the country each winter in response to seed crops.  Only God knows how long they’ll stick around.

A few hours later I headed out into the flurry – snowflakes and birds fluttered alike – and I refilled the feeders. Another oncoming storm meant more birds would be coming and that picked up my spirits . . .  in spite of the day’s loss.


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