This year Eliza and I set off down the street in search of our birds. We disqualified a few flittering flocks of something that moved too quickly for us to identify, and fantasized about being somewhere for New Year's where we might spot a cockatoo or something exotic as our bird...and then I saw mine. I should have remembered that every time we walk to the north down our street and approach a set of hedges, we startle a large flock of sparrows. Every time. Alas...but no, that is all right. I can embrace the little sparrow as My Bird. Like last year's chickadee, it is a friendly reminder that not all life has abandoned us during the winter. Sparrows are steadfast and cheerful, and I've grown quite fond of one in particular who settles in with us during the winter (I know - it is unlikely that it is the same bird, but maybe a descendant who has found our bushes and feeders to be hospitable during these months). All the same, I had a little sinking feeling that it was not a hawk, or a titmouse, something, anything, with a bit of drama or color.
Eliza and I quickly rearranged the rules a bit, seeing as she had a song sparrow last year, and as we walked she scanned the sky and was rewarded with a silent "V" of geese gliding by. She grumbled for a moment - really, our options are slim at this time of year - but then happily announced her find to the rest of the family.
Dan and Ani waited until we were in the car, heading to our hike, to find theirs. It's not that they were blindfolded, they just hadn't seen any, and Dan was determined not to glance towards the river where there was sure to be a gaggle of geese milling about. I tried to shout loudly enough about the hawk I spotted sitting in a tree across the water, but he was determined to see it himself...and so it was that for the second year in a row, Dan has the crow. He thinks maybe he didn't learn enough from his Year of the Crow so it's stuck with him a second year...Ani saw the crows as well, and seems quite pleased, from the sound of all her cawing.
So there you have it - the exotic birds that winter in Ohio! We love them for their ability to survive the ice and snow, for the insects they eat and the patterns they cut as they cross our skies, for the chirrup that tells me the sparrow is at our feeder, before I have had a chance to look...