Familiar birds, while growing up in Kolkata, were crows, sparrows and magpies. As the winter turned to spring, we heard the sweet cooing of cuckoo birds but s/he hid from us. All we heard was the sweet call which became synonymous with the arrival of spring. Once in a while we spotted ghughu pakhi (dove), or Bulbul or Moyna. I do not know the English names for those. When we lived in Delhi, we had 3 resident peacocks, who, sometimes, sat on the railing of our balcony and cried out loudly, making us flinch. Peacock calls are horrible to human ears. There were parrots too. For a Kolkatan, sightings of parrots and peacocks flying around freely were wildly exciting!
In USA, I came to recognize a few other types of birds that were unfamiliar to me – cardinals, blue jays, pileated woodpeckers, robins….. I am not a birder, in the sense, I don’t know the names of the different types that I see in the woods behind my house. But they give me immense joy. During warmer months, I sit on the back deck and look at the frenetic activities of the cardinal couple who go about their daily lives in front of me, or the furious blue jay, whose motive in life is to pick fight with anyone in his/her sight – be it another bird or a squirrel.
After the loss in our lives, my friends and coworkers enveloped us in their love, kindness and generosity in forms of food, plants and gifts. One friend gifted us a bird bath. For a few months the bird bath languished in our basement till Sean asked me if I wanted it set up and where. I wanted it in my backyard. He set it up but we did not fill it with water. It became part of the landscape in our backyard. It snowed a few weeks ago, and the bird bath filled up with water once the snow on it melted. And that is when my heart lifted. I was doing dishes over the weekend, lost in my thought, when I happened to raise my head and look out the back window. There were two puffy robins sitting opposite to each other taking turns drinking from the bird bath. There were 5 other birds waiting for their turn, sitting on the fence. I exclaimed to Sean, “Come! Look!” He came, stood by me and watched the shenanigans of the puffed up little birds trying to take turns in their very own water bowl. Most of them were orderly and followed rules, one tried to peck the others to get ahead in line. There is always that guy/gal.
Once the birds discovered there was water to be had in our backyard, they came back. On these days, when joy and happy feelings are scarce, these birds drinking water from the bird bath made both of us smile. As I got ready for work on Monday, I reminded Sean to fill up the bird bath for our thirsty visitors.
“I filled up your bird bath.” Sean said, when I got back from work that day.