I can recognize their weird squeak-chirps without ever laying eyes on them and I've researched what food they prefer (sunflower seeds and shells). At dinner time, the whole family sits quietly and waits for the squeak-chirp to come. Then we sit in awe of the skittish red bird gracing us with its presence. Unfortunately, I've yet to get a good photo of any of them. Just turning on my camera startles them.
With the cardinals have come chickadees, tufted titmice, nuthatches, and robins. And one other bird that I'd never really noticed until we discovered a complicated, dense nest in a bush next to our back deck. The bird protecting it was slightly different from the others -- it was a duller brown color and had wide, piercing eyes.
After much research, turns out this is a brown thrasher. A bird I'd never even heard of, but which is one of the more populous birds in our region. Known for fading into the background, the brown thrasher is sort of the middle child of birds. Perhaps that's why it has snagged a piece of our hearts. We check on the nest daily and have moved food closer to it.
Then yesterday we were fascinated to realize there are two birds. (Obviously we are totally clueless about bird culture because we assumed the mama was a single parent struggling all by her lonesome with her clutch of babies.) A mama and a daddy, tag teaming their speckled brown eggs, one coming as the other goes, both focused solely on these babies.
No wonder we feel so connected to them. I am on the lookout for brown thrashers now. I know they're out there, sitting back and giving the limelight to the flashy red cardinals, assertive blue jays, and adorable little chickadees. But they, like me (and every other middle child), deserve recognition and admiration for their contribution to the show.
And I am way too excited for those little babies to emerge from their shells and fill our tiny back yard world with their cries. Is it weird to feel like they're my babies, too? (You don't have to answer that.)