Friday, May 28, 2010


For several weeks, I have been photographing the courtship rituals of the bluebirds in my backyard.  It's an invasion of their privacy, I suppose, but I can't resist the temptation of watching these beautiful creatures through my telephoto lens.  To be honest, I'm beginning to feel a bit like the photographer in Hitchcock's Rear Window who constantly spies on his neighbors while convalescing from an injury.

For the most part, the bluebirds have been tolerant of my intrusive behavior.  A few days ago, however, I began to sense a slight shift in the dynamics of our relationship. After taking a few photos with the camera mounted on a tripod, I sat down in a patio chair for a moment, only to discover seconds later that the bluebird I had been photographing was now perched on top of my camera about six feet away.  My first thought, of course, was that my camera's resistance to bird droppings was about to be tested.  As the bird stared at me intently, however, I realized that his rather intimate visit was for the limited purpose of giving me a polite warning. He seemed to appreciate the nice accommodations that my wife and I have provided, but appeared concerned that my photo-taking frenzy each evening was complicating his courtship advances.

Thus cautioned, I decided to give the bluebirds a break for a few days.  No good deed goes unpunished, however, so it was only a day or so later that a very aggressive young fellow -- presumably the guy who commandeered my camera earlier -- began flying with great abandon into the rear window of my sun room. Unfortunately, these reckless missions have not abated for the past four or five days.  Indeed, the assaults are coming with such regularity that I am beginning to think less about Rear Window and more about another Hitchcock classic, The Birds.

Preparing for Another Assault 

Concerned about the bluebird's physical welfare, my wife taped various objects on the window pane in the hopes of discouraging the incessant head-banging. Nothing was successful, however, so I decided this morning to place my camera on a tripod inside the house and aim it through the window in the direction of the bluebird.  He would either be discouraged by the camera, I reasoned, or I would get some good shots. Stubborn little guy that he is, he decided upon the latter course, continuing to fly into the window pane until dizziness sent him back to the nearby limb for a brief respite before the next assault.  

After taking the photos shown in this posting, I put the camera away and continued to search for a solution to the bluebird's problem, short of opening the window and letting him apply for adoption.  Within moments, however, the problem was resolved by none other than a delicate female who perched on a garden structure nearby and stared at the male in the same disbelief that I had been feeling for days.  Prompted by the sheer pulchritude of Her Loveliness, the male withdrew from his insane head-banging activities and returned to what he should have been doing in the first place.   

Hopefully, the little male bluebird has come to his senses and will stop these kamikaze missions.  One thing is for sure, however:  he is still keeping an eye on me!


  1. A great pairing of images and text studying how love can drive birds (as well as we humans) out of their minds.

    I think that desperate bluebird is afraid you are his dashing competition for the lovely lady bird. Perhaps if you and your wife walk around the property arm in arm he will feel less threatened by your prowess. ;-)

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  3. Bonnie --

    Thanks for the nice comments. I plan to take your advice and demonstrate to my bluebird friends that I have already chosen a mate.

  4. George,

    thanks for introducing yourself over on my blog! I'm glad to know you found something interesting there. And your blog, too, has lots to explore - so I'll come and peek around too :-)

    You've taken some great photos (and my thought, as I read this piece about Mr. Bluebird, was that perhaps he LIKES your attention and wants you take really flattering photos of him!), and your paintings are evocative and I can't help but keep scrolling up and down looking at them!

    I also was moved by what you wrote in Bonnie's comment section. It's absolutely true that culture and language are intimately tied to land - like the flesh on the body of the land...and that this Gulf disaster could very well cause the loss of a distinct way of being, of existing in relation to a specific place, is very very possible.

    Now it seems we are entering a period in which anyone who has any awareness must really experience mourning, because, as you said, of the loss of the future and of memory, both human and non-human. It doesn't get much deeper than that, even if it *seems* impersonal to most people.

    No way out but through... a challenge, for sure.

  5. greetings - i've come your way by way of bonnie's blog just now - absolutely love this great tale of the bluebird - what a wonderful series of encounters with this little creature - i'm just wondering what he would do with photos of himself taped inside the window!

    great fun post - and the images of HIMself beautiful!

  6. To Neighbor --

    Thanks for the kind and generous comments, especially on the paintings. You may be right about Mr. Bluebird. Yesterday, I took my camera to an area of my yard where I seldom find him, and he suddenly appeared on a branch about eight feet in front of me. He seems to enjoy these encounters as much as I do.

    On the BP oil disaster, the question is not only whether we can get through it, but whether people will finally recognize the insanity of drilling holes into the center of the earth without having sufficient fail-safe mechanisms in place to close them when unforeseen consequences occur.

    Thanks for visiting my site. I look forward to following your blog as well.

  7. To Gypsywoman,

    Thanks for visiting my site, and I'm glad you liked the bluebird photos. As to placing the photos in the window, I think that's the problem in the first place; I think he sees his on image and thinks its another male encroaching on his territory.

  8. The outstanding photos and your attentive narration of the relationship with the kamikaze bluebird make this quite a little saga. Somehow the story strikes me as bearing the seeds of a good children's book.

  9. Lorenzo --

    Now that's a great idea! A children's book. Thanks, Lorenzo. I'm always looking for a new challenge.

    I'm off to England tomorrow for my coast-to-coast hike. I look forward to reconnecting and reading you blog when I return.