New Bird

“Forty-three species”. Those were Elihu’s first words early this morning when I went to his bedside to wake him for the day.  He rolled over to face me, and he was all grin. He had added a new bird to his list.

A week ago or so we’d counted forty-two species of wild birds that he’d seen so far here in New York. Just last night he’d shrieked with joy at seeing a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak at the feeder for the very first time. While I didn’t see it myself, and was fairly skeptical, I kept the possibility open. Months ago he’d told me we had a Raven. He’d heard it, he explained; it was distinct and much different from a Crow. I placated him, told him perhaps, but thought it not likely as Ravens are usually not in this area – they’re more common down south. He defended his stance. One day he heard a guttural croaking sound from down the hill and came to get me just in time to hear it too. Still, my own ears could not convince me. Then just a few weeks ago, as I drove the winding uphill road to my home, I saw an enormous black bird fly overhead and land in a tree just above me. I slowed to stare as my mouth fell open. I simply could not believe it. This bird was no Crow. It wore a ruff around its neck, its beak was much thicker than that of a Crow, and man, this thing was fucking huge. Really. It’s a good thing I had a friend in the car beside me whose father is a professional birder – else I’d probably not have believed my own eyes. So, that day I had to apologize to Elihu for not quite believing him. We did, in fact, have a Raven about.

Yesterday, as I tended to the chickens, I thought I heard a Robin’s song. Without thinking much about it, my heart registered the hopeful feeling that the song has always inspired in me, and so I began to listen with more intent. It sounded very much like a Robin, but just perhaps it wasn’t… could it be the similar tune of Elihu’s Grosbeak? My heart lifted with hope and anticipation.

Once a new species visits, it takes a week or so for it to return and to convince others to join him at the feeder. And so, we will wait for the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.  Elihu has spotted many birds at our feeder long before they became regulars; the Red Bellied Woodpeckers, the Starlings, the Grackles and more. He’s heard the Wood Thrush, Woodcock and other birds I could not pick out for myself. I must learn to trust my little nature boy.

And I should probably get ready to eat some crow.

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