I am upstairs getting ready to head out the door for the evening when my cell phone buzzes. “There’s a new bird at the feeder.” My sweetie’s voice from downstairs has that taut, measured tone that tells me he’s excited. “I’m coming,” I say, dropping everything.
The bird is a flapping melange of red, black, and white before he finally settles on a fir branch. His crimson bib is unmistakable. In the dusky light it fairly glows. Just like the one on the photo, his bib trails down his breast in a silky pink-red thread.
I can’t stop watching him. He perches quietly near our dining room windows, his breast turned full toward the house. I can hardly tear myself away. I sit and gaze until my neck aches from from looking up and I am a half hour late to my evening class.
I waited twenty-five years for this sighting!
Long before I became a birder, I had a friend who grew up on the Midwestern plains and loved rose-breasted grosbeaks. To me they were exotic–and remained so during my twenty years in the Bay Area, where they are only rarely sighted.
I didn’t count on seeing one here either, because Boulder lies at the very edge of their range. They only pass through here on their way north to breeding grounds in Canada.
But what I truly didn’t expect was that this bird’s bib would be so vivid–a dark-bright rosy red that no photo can do justice.
Is that why we love birds so much–that when we meet them in person they are so much livelier than we expect?