Shara French

a birdhouse

posted Apr 29, 2020, 10:18 AM by Bruce Rowe

Through the kitchen sliding-glass door, beyond the white patio eaves and milkweed bush, a birdhouse laden Shepard’s hook leaned heavily against a black, wet chain-link fence. The rain-soaked ground could no longer support the double-pronged steel rod and bulky birdhouse's weight. My eyes focused on the scene. I see two little Bewick’s Wrens flit in and out of the tiny birdhouse hole. I find them most active at dinnertime. The birds are sprite-like in the way they hither and thither about. They are soft brown in color, have alert beady black eyes with a tufted, fuzzy buff chest and pointy thorn-like beak. Their distinctive short tail plumage is slightly fanned and flicks and twitches in quick feather-duster jerks of dappled black and white. This type of wren’s tweet isn’t a tweet. Rather, their chirp is a buzzing sound similar to cicadas and is expressed in short, loud bursts. I would hear the “buzz” from the kitchen sink, hurry to the slider to watch them. The felled birdhouse worried me, though. I wondered if the little buzzing birds would still live there. Would they adapt to their new living conditions?

The next rainy day, I saw both Bewick’s Wrens dashing in and out of their birdhouse hole, which has a California license plate for its roof. The dark, wood-sided birdhouse is decorated and affixed with old orangey-rusty keys, faded silverish-blackish doorknobs and springy fobs of bronze patina. The odd accouterments are randomly placed giving the avian abode a quirky vibe. I bought the unique birdhouse at the Fallbrook Harvest Faire and truly meant it for garden décor. A happy day for me when about a month ago, I noticed the buzzing wrens were making my birdhouse décor into their home. I observed them daily, picking up little stiff sticks, large, cracked, dusty brown leaves with their tiny pointy beaks, doing their best to thread them through the birdhouse-hole. Sometimes the small pieces of nest things fell...gently landing in the tall teal-green weeds below.

Comparing our lives with the adaptability of my backyard wrens’ birdhouse, leaning then on the chain-link fence, I think about how our living conditions have changed with a collective urgent reality. The Coronavirus has, insidiously and physically, changed our human present world. Fear of the unknown has arrived in the form of a highly contagious human virus. Our homes, personal sense of security, and way of life have been rocked by a global mass infection storm. According to government and medical leaders, our ability to adapt to these uncertain and even frightening times hinges on limited human interaction, which will ultimately determine our survival. Like my little backyard Bewick's Wrens, their world and small house was rocked by heavy rainstorms, they continue to return to the nest, and strive in the felled birdhouse on the Shepard’s hook that leaned on a wet chain-link fence.

Postscript:

With my hand holding the upper part of the hook, my handy and loving husband, Doug, gently placed two pale gray cinder blocks on the ground to either side of the black rod bringing the Shepard’s hook erect. The little wrens began darting in and out soon thereafter.

 

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