Friday, February 4, 2011

Have you seen...

In a moment of both delight and dismay, I stooped to pick up a small form barely larger than the clothespins tucked into my pocket, as it lay wet and dirtied in the center of the yard just feet beyond the clothesline.
A little bird, strangely fallen with no obvious explanation as to how it had happened to lay there, motionless in the dampened grass.
I turned it over in my hand, the cold and small, soggy, brown lump.
And felt a wave of regret wash past as I tipped his lifeless head to one side and found a long, slender, recurved bill—my brown creeper.

Brown Creeper

Long past saving, this little winter visitor from the north would become the morning’s study, the star of a bird-in-the-hand moment.
One, that with every regret, left me to marvel at each quiet detail.

His long, thin bill easily picks small insects or spiders from the crevices in the bark, while his stiff and strong tail feathers create a prop, much like those of a woodpecker.

Long hind-toenails are handy for one who spends the day spiraling up a tree trunk, dropping to the bottom of the next tree and climbing upward again.

Cryptically colored feathers and round shape make him look like a knot on the bark as he creeps or like a faded, falling leaf.

Although he may fluff himself against the cold, the brown creeper is easily one of the smallest residents of my winter woods, weighing just a little more than a hummingbird!

"Have you seen...." is an effort to discover the unusual beauty in things not usually appreciated for their beauty.

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Laure Ferlita said...

How sad that the little creeper died—the cold, do you think? But I am delighted (and not the least bit surprised) that you were able to study and learn more about his uncommon beauty.

I recently did that with a blue jay that met an untimely death at the paws of one our dogs. (She got lucky or maybe the blue jay was unlucky, but it's an unusual occurrence, thank goodness.) They are so delicate and small, yet such a presence in our lives!

Kat said...

We were lucky this week--the ailing little bird we brought in recovered and was released. It's so sad when there's nothing you can do.
The little goldfinch had a strange foot ailment I coudlnt' identify. One foot was covered in ferny/hairy/cilia-like flesh-colored bits. I didn't get a picture of it. Do you have any thoughts on what that could be?

Randy Emmitt said...


My last post was a Brown Creeper also, mine more fortunate than yours. Sad to see it dying like this. These things happen in nature everyday, we shall have to live with it.

Our Brown Creepers are visiting the suet feeders on big tree trunks.

KaHolly said...

Oh, Nina, I'm so sorry you lost your little Brown Creeper. I can appreciate that it did give you a chance for further study, and I learned from it, too.

Arija said...

Oh Nina, how sad . . . like one of Anderson's fairy tales or Oscar Wilde's.

Wonderful treecreeper studies both pre- and post-mortem.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This hard cold winter has been so hard on our little feathered friends. So sorry he had to go.

Ginnymo said...

It's so sad when we come upon a little bird like that. I once tried to save one and brought it inside but it died by morning. Isn't it interesting to study them though. You get to see them up close . So sorry you had to find your little Creeper this way Nina.

KGMom said...

While I know death is absolutely part of the cycle of life--I am always striken when a small beastie dies. This winter I discovered two small birds--dead from window strikes, a junco and a red finch. I try to rescue them, but to no avail.

nina said...

I'm glad there is an understanding response to seeing my dead bird pictures--not everyone would see the beauty in spending time poring over a small, dead object.
In this case, I'd have to assume some sort of collision was the cause, perhaps the side of our house or garage, but all windows on that side are screened, so impact would have been lessened. It's a puzzle.
But to have him in my hand was incredible--he was so light! And as I washed him off and blew him dry I almost blew him right off my hand! Beautiful feathers! Sweet little guy. That toe! Zowie!
And fortunately I looked out the window to find 2 more on my trees that same day. So they'll pull through and leave me soon to nest up north.

Kat--no idea what the odd foot finding might be

Clare said...

What a wonderful post Nina, and wonderfully poignant as well.

@Kat. A likely suspect for the growth on your goldfinch's feet is Avian Pox. As it is a good possibility and is quite contagious to other birds you should take the opportunity to clean and sanitize your feeders, and clean the area around them.

KodasTotems said...

Sweet little thing. I'm saddened by his death, but that you cared enough to honor him through your writing warms my heart. I'm also very happy that I found your blog today via Tim Ryan's blog From The Faraway, Nearby (one of my favorites). I was particularly touched by the Christmas Mouse story and shared it on my Facebook page. How is the mouse doing? Anyways, thank you for sharing your lovely insights through your writing and photography. I'll be a frequent visitor.

Kristy Sweetland

KaHolly said...

I thought of you and this post as just hours after reading it, my daughter came in with a dead gecko for me. She knows I would want to study it, save it perhaps, but she can't figure out why!? Apparently sluggish from the cold, it got caught underneath the garage door. Poor little thing.

Alice said...

Sad to see the brown creeper died. These small creatures are very cute why this happens with them.Death is part of our life so we must bow to god's will.

Kim Hosey said...

It is sad, but you've done a lovely study of and tribute to this gorgeous little bird. Really nicely done.

Oak in the Seed said...

You have justly immortalized one of my favorite birds. I mourn it.