Snatch, turn, suck, drop, hop

22 March 2003

I’m sitting at the computer, making a mix of Irish music for tonight’s ‘Spring Fling’ sweetheart banquet at Jeremy and Jennifer‘s. Over the strains of “Danny Boy”, Kris calls, “Come here! Come here!”

I can tell by the way she’s calling that she wants me to see something outside: some animal hijinx or some bizarre aspect of the weather.

She points to the tree by the patio, the Japanese ornamental cherry (‘snowgoose‘), which is currently exploding with tiny white blossoms, a beautiful contrast to the glossy red of the tree’s bark. In the tree is a tiny bird, probably a finch, hopping along one branch, snatching up blossoms in its beak, turning them around, consuming some small part, and then dropping the blossoms to the ground.

Snatch, turn, suck, drop, hop.

Snatch, turn, suck, drop, hop.

Is it devouring some small pocket of nectar in each flower? Is there something tasty in the petals? We don’t know.

“What a waste of flowers,” Kris says. Where’s Simon? If he were here, he’d be interested in the bird, too, though for a wholly different reason.

Within minutes, the bird has stripped one small branch of all its petals and has begun working on the next branch. It’s joined by two of its brothers. The birds have red heads and breasts, gray feathers on their backs. They’re small. We note that a similar bird, without the red (a female perhaps?), is eating from the birdfeeder.

I grab The Sibley Guide to Birds from the bookshelf and on page 529 we find a match: the house finch. (Why doesn’t Sibley‘s have a taxonomic classification system for easy bird identification? Surely serious birding books have something like this?)

I remember our trip to Yakima with Jeremy and Jennifer. Jenn’s dad is a birdwatcher, and his backyard is devoted to feeding the birds of central Washington. He keeps his binoculars and his bird books by the kitchen window, overlooking his bird sanctuary.

Though Kris and I are not what would rightly be termed birdwatchers, we do enjoy them. If we had more time, it might be a hobby we’d undertake together. Perhaps it’s something for us to do together when we’re older, each night after we eat dinner at the bowling alley.


“We should go to the bowling alley to eat dinner some time,” says Kris as we drive past Canby Bowl. Is this the woman I married? Suggesting that we eat at the bowling alley? Canby’s restaurant selection is poor, but it’s not so poor that I want to eat slimy fish and chips in a dark and smoky corner while watching a fat middle-aged man (hey! that’s me!) struggle to pick up 7-10 split.

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