Tag Archives: Quiscalus quiscula

Through the Eyes of a Child


The phone rang as I was on the way out the door.  I dashed back up the front stairs to get it.  The little girl across the street was bubbling with excitement; partly because she had been allowed to use the phone but mostly because she had seen a bird.  When I asked what it looked like, she said it was mixed up with a green head and a shiny purple body.  After running through all of the birds in the field guide in my head, I listened to her prattle on with indulgence but not paying strict attention; assuming it was imaginary.  She could hear the distance in my voice and knew I was placating her.  In frustration she handed the phone to her mother, who thanked me for listening.  We both laughed grown-up laughs.

Hours later, I was pulling weeds in the front flower bed, when a Grackle hopped up onto a low fence.  The sunlight caught the sheen of its feather in such a way that it had a green head and a purple body.  I finally put the pieces of the mystery bird together.  The key word had been shiny.  I called across the street to the neighbor girl to ask if this was the bird she had seen.  She gave me a pitying glance and an eye-roll.  “No,” she said. “That bird is black.” From her angle it was a basic black bird, but from mine, and her’s earlier, it was iridescent.

I now hold onto watching birds through the eyes of a child, where a common black bird can become a thing of beauty, mystery and imagination.

Ah, my littlest neighbor, I promise, next time, I will believe you.


Filed under backyard