Friday, April 18, 2014

Mr. Beakly.

I am sad.  This spring all the usual feathered-suspects have returned to Vinoland (some never left); Mr and Mrs Brown-headed cowbird, a mélange of assorted sparrows, a veritable throng of titmice, the ever quarrelsome scrub jays...chestnut-backed chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, mourning doves, quail, bluebirds, finches and towhees - to name but a few.  All these tweeting, hopping and fluttering visitors stop by our deck, several times a day, to grab a snack from the seed-smorgasbord that Vinomaker puts out for them.  Ever present are the dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis), a small bird widely distributed in the United States usually having a pinkish bill, dark ashy-grey head and conspicuous white lateral tail feathers that they flash in flight.  But three particular juncos of note have routinely come and gone for the past few years.  Until this year.
First, there is 'Necklace' - a junco with a very exaggerated ring of light-coloured feathers, akin to a mayoral chain of office, on his chest.  Then there is 'Spectacles' - a dapper little fellow with a pronounced ring of lightly pigmented feathers around each eye, just like he is wearing a pair of reading glasses.  And last, but not least, my favourite, 'Mr. Beakly' - a curious little birdie with muddled pigmentation on his chest and a Mallen Streak on his head.  But most notable of Mr. Beakly's somatic-anomalies is his malformed beak (a junco's beak should be almost finch-like).  And it seems like his beak is continually growing because when last I saw him his lower mandible seemed even larger than usual.  My little mutant isn't at all shy and lets me get quite close to him as he scoffs up seeds with a peculiar sideways action.  I just think he's great.   Alas, I have eagerly awaited his reappearance for the past few weeks now, but to no avail. 
Who knows how old Mr. Beakly was when I first noticed him: unfortunately, nature may have just simply run it's course and Mr. B is now swapping seed-plundering stories and perfectly pigmented wing feathers with avian-angels.  I just miss my little twitterer.


New Hampshire Wineman said...

Sad, yes, but this is my favorite post (Always good, better, best with me:-) I once mention Annie Dillard to you; this is it in spades. Beautifully publishable. This is a keeper in true naturalist's lexicon!
Thank you,

New Hampshire Wineman said...

I'd love to see if I could put this on FB! Say the word and I'll try!

Vinogirl said...

NHW: Thanks, but Ms. Dillard (who you have mentioned in the past) would be appalled by my grammar/punctuation.
Or I could be like Edith Holden...except I'm not presently in England, nor Edwardian.
FB away if you wish.

New Hampshire Wineman said...

V-girl: I'll give you the comments as they come in, but keep in mind that I don't have that many friends, but many of the ones I do have on FB are interesting and vastly different from one-another!

Cher Sevigny Gottsche Wonderful...takes you right in

Vinogirl said...

NHW: I just had a peep at your FB page, you were successful in getting my post up.
Re comments: I'll check in myself now and again and have a nose around :)

Thomas said...

Great post. This is why I don't try to befriend any of the birds that come to our deck, and I know a number of them are recidivists.

There was a terrific show on PBS a few days ago concerning a scientist who spent eight years living with and studying mule deer in Wyoming. He became one of the herd--literally--and when a few of the deer died, he was turned inside out by it.

Do Bianchi said...

I feel a Lennon-McCartneyesque composition coming on... circa Revolver... sorry to hear he isn't back...

Vinogirl said...

Tomasso: I tend to be overly sentimental about animals. At present I am sorrowful about an ailing deer in the neighbourhood :(

2B: That is funny. Whilst I love 'And Your Bird Can Sing', when I was typing Mr. Beakly's name, in my original post, 'Dear Prudence' popped into my head :)