Saturday, January 19, 2008

Have the Bushtits been There All Along?

People talking on cell phones while driving do incomprehensible things, like crashing into the backs of big DOT trucks covered in flashing lights or wandering off the side of the road. This we know. However, I'm beginning to suspect we may all be that distracted by our busy lifestyles--so much so that we walk and drive right past amazing little bits of nature every day without even noticing.

Earlier this week, I got out of my car (a miracle in and of itself) to mail a letter in one of those blue R2D2 corner mailboxes. Next to the mailbox was a squat, naked tree full of gnarls and stubby branches. I suspect in spring I will find it is a cherry tree, but right now it's just a loose collection of sticks. The tree was swarming with tiny twittering birds whose odd little beaks looked like the tips of nails. They paid no attention to the three similar trees nearby; they just climbed and hopped over and under the branches of this one.

I stood with my mouth open (demonstrating a complete lack of attention to the laws of probability, given that I was standing under a tree full of birds), bemused by the tiny, cute creatures. I've lived here nearly 20 years and have never seen this phenomenon before. The birds paid no attention to me, even though my head was very close to them. They were totally focused on whatever it was they were doing--which was something I couldn't figure out just by looking at them.

It only took a few minutes to find them on the internet. Bushtits (don't you love it?) stick together in groups of 40 or more and eat stuff they glean off leaves and twigs of trees. How have I never seen this before? Too much time driving and too little time walking? Too much time thinking about the next thing instead of being in the moment? Oh, I hope I pay more attention in the future. Those little birds delighted me with their sudden, enchanting appearance. How nice it would be to have more experiences like that!


cinderelly said...

i saw some of those in my trees outside my kitchen window also! they are so very tiny and cute...i too, stood there mesmerised for a time, while they did their little snack attack in the twigs!

Anonymous said...

Yes, they've been there all along; they are one my favorite birds and you can usually hear them before you see them. Nice story!