May 08

For the Birds

American Robin

American Robin

A cacophony of bird song lilts to my ears as I step outside in the morning air. I sit on the top step, waiting for my dog, Wesley, to do his business. My eyes fly to the trees, to the edges of the yard, trying to put faces to voices. A red-breasted robin hops in the dewy grass along the fence, stopping to peck from time to time, the early bird catching the worm, perhaps, or some other unfortunate bug. A soft gray dove flies down, hoping to get in on the action, but the robin rebuffs him with a flurry of wings as a warning, and the peace-seeking dove retreats to the trees.

Just beyond the robin is a Northern flicker, only the second I’ve seen all year. He seems to be scavenging as well, but far enough away that he doesn’t incur the robin’s wrath. A house finch lights down near the flicker, and it seems to be just a little too close for comfort. The flicker walks away, his head bobbing as it moves, but the finch pursues him as if the flicker had invited him to a game of tag. Bob and hop, bob and hop, they make their way across the yard, into the shadows of the peach tree.

Wesley joins me on the step, finished and proud of himself. I stroke his fur and tell him he’s a good boy, and he nestles his head into my leg. Then, his ears are alert, because he’s always on the alert, and the hound dog in him takes over. The robin has flown to the top of the fence, out of reach, but the flicker and finch are too busy with their gamesmanship to notice his sudden interest.

Wesley takes off at full speed, not particularly subtle, guaranteeing his failure because of course, the birds see him coming. He chases them off the lawn, and the finch flies off to the right while the flicker takes refuge in the trees directly behind him. The finch is gone, but from his high perch, safe and out of reach, the flicker scolds Wesley, letting loose a string of profanities that would make my ears burn if I knew how to speak the language of birds.

Wesley, my hero, struts back to me, pleased with himself for keeping me safe. He’s eager to go back inside, because after all that work, he’s ready for breakfast.


Today’s prompt: Write about birds.


  1. EydieStumpf (@EydieStumpf)

    How sweet Wesley is. Good dog. And YOU are very observant. I only hear the birds while I’m trying to sleep and then in the morning waking up. LOL

    1. Shelli Proffitt Howells

      He is a good dog. And I enjoy bird watching. It’s one of my little pleasure.

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