Weeks back, the osprey returned for a second year to the cell tower, viewable from the kitchen window. The nest is newly preened, the male flying low over, ripping branches and twigs, hauling them up and up for his mate to arrange, make. She beds the nest, awaits the chicks. And the river fish he brings to her, hooked on talons, dragged dripping, wiggling over our heads.
Last week, I found a fish on the lawn, dropped in the yard. It was fresh, silver scales, neatly pierced through like binder rings had impaled its back. The head was mostly eaten, but maybe distasteful and thus disposed of. That I found it before the ants was surprising. That I found it before Fred the dog, more surprising.
H- was shown and explained to about the talons, the head, the proximity to the nest. Now sometimes he will look up, cock his head and say: “…’member fish?”
Years ago I had wanted to plant something tall enough to obstruct the view of the cell tower. Now it’s valued, marking time by hosting a paramount symbol of seasonal change. There’s a lot that’s compelling about it, crowned with an immense nest, twigs and weavings sticking over in every direction, the contrast of it.
And later, in the late summer, the young will hop among the woven twigs, try out voicings, cry for days while the parents sit watchful in a nearby tree, coaxing them to hunt and fly by remaining away. And then they’ll all leave until spring again, when the mates return, embodying absolute fidelity and seamless harmony. The silence of the abandoned tower in the colder months entirely wipes clean the slate of previous seasons, like shaving too closely to the skin.
There’s been a bird feeder outside the kitchen window for years. Aside from winter, it rarely gets a visit and when it does, only from the sparrows. But suddenly it’s a sanctuary. The juncos chase away the song sparrows, the red winged blackbirds remove the house finches, the scrub jays flee the steller’s jay, and the single crow removes everyone.