When Mom Was Away From The Nest, The Babies Kept Silent, Their Eyes Closed And Their Heads Down, But When She Flew Near They Lifted Their Heads, Opened Their Mouths, And Noisily Begged For Food. She Would Stuff Worms Or Insects Into Their Gaping Mouths And Then, Before Flying Away, Pluck What Looked Like A Fecal Pellet From The Nest. This I Assumed She Would Drop In The Forest Somewhere Before Foraging For More Insects. I Watched This Avian Family For Hours, But Finally I Could Put My Hunger Off No Longer And Disturbed Them By Opening The Kitchen Cabinet And Lighting The Stove. “Sorry,” I Told Her, “My Turn To Eat.”
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Mother Bird Must Have Chosen This Nesting Spot In Early Spring, When There Were Few Hikers In The Forest. While I Cooked Only A Few Feet From The Nest, She Didn’T Dare Come Near Enough To Feed The Chicks. She Sat On A Nearby Branch Watching Over Me And Cheeping Her Dissatisfaction. She’D Flick Her Tail, Flutter To Another Branch, And “Cheep, Cheep, Cheep” Some More. As I Cooked, I Could Hear Her Nervous Activity And Rushed Through My Tasks So The Feeding Could Continue. “Almost Done,” I’D Say, And Finally Take My Bowl Of Backcountry Food To The Corner Bench To Sit Quietly And Watch The Joyous Reunion. I Became So Attuned To Their Patterns And Sounds That Even From Inside The Yurt I Could Tell What Was Happening At The Nest. I Knew My Darling Bird Well, And Would Say She Knew Me And My Patterns, But Until I Got Home I Didn’T Know She Was An Eastern Phoebe. Thumbing Through My Bird Guide, There Was No Question; I Recognized Her The Way You’D Recognize An Old Friend In The School Yearblog.
I Became Protective Of The Phoebe And Her Family. Once, In The Middle Of The Night, I Heard Wings Flapping Around And Around The Yurt. The Bird, I Thought As I Woke From A Deep Sleep. Something Is Raiding The Nest, Perhaps A Snake, And The Mother Is Upset. This Was A Reasonable Thought 70 Percent Of All Nest Losses Are Due To Predators Such As Chipmunks And Snakes. Should I Go Out And See, I Wondered? Perhaps Even Rescue The Babies? But As I Lay In Bed Deciding What To Do, I Felt A Rush Of Wind On My Face, As If From A Wing. Wait A Minute! How Could I Feel Air From The Wing Of A Bird That W Them Of Porcupines Hunched Side By Side: Up, Down, Up, Down. This Rough Terrain Of Hills And Valleys Saved The Old Growth In These Mountains.as Outside? As I Pondered That Thought, A Wing Brushed My Face. This Was No Dream, This Was Real, And It Occurred To Me That It Was Probably Not A Bird. Just Then The Creature Whizzed By So Closely I Experienced The Primal Fear That It Would Get Caught In My Hair. I’Ve Told Countless People That The Bat-In-The-Hair Thing Doesn’T Happen Their Sonar Is Too Sophisticated But At That Moment Intellect Gave Way To Instinct. I Have Very Long Hair And It Was All Sleep- Messy, And The Thought Of Wrestling A Winged Mammal Out Of My Hair While Alone In The Dark Didn’T Appeal To Me. Laughing At Myself, I Covered My Head With A Towel, Reached For My Flashlight, And Confirmed My Suspicion: There Was A Bat In My Yurt.
Many People Enjoy Hearing About The Nesting Bird, But When I Tell Them About The Bat They Are Frightened For Me. I Simply Crept To The Door (With My Head Still Covered), Opened It, And Hoped The Bat Would Fly Out. It Only Took A Few More Darting Turns Around The Yurt Before Finding The Exit.
All Was Quiet Once More, And I Went Back To Sleep. Bats Are More Abundant In Old-Growth Forests, Too.
I Really Liked These Porcupine Mountains, Or “Porkies,” As The Locals Call Them. They Were Named By The Native People Who Lived Here, Because The Hills Reminded
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