When Barbara was a little girl, she found a baby bluebird in her yard. There were no others around, and that was more than 80 years ago of course, so not knowing what to do she took it in. She dug worms, and went to the library and learned about bluebirds, and in a week or so the little bluebird was fat and happy and was able to fly and she let it go. Through the years, she often spoke of that little bluebird.
Mid-January last year, two pairs of Eastern bluebirds appeared at our kitchen windows, exploring the seed feeders that hung there. Kim had live mealworms on hand, and a hasty trip to a birding supply store in Bainbridge for a window-mount platform feeder soon gave us a sheltered place for the bluebirds to find the live, tasty treats. And so, we began starting our morning with coffee and our bluebirds, and both pairs would politely take turns at the platform, gobbling ten or more mealworms at a time, then flutter off to the Red Maple tree nearby to rest.
One year ago this morning, in lightly blowing snow, right on schedule, the bluebirds came. But there was a fifth bluebird this time, and when Kim opened the window to replenish the mealworms and suet crumbs, the new bluebird dropped down, landed on her hand just briefly, took some food and left. A few hours later, we learned that Barbara had passed away.
We never saw the fifth bluebird again. The four bluebirds continued to visit us through the winter and two even stayed and fledged little ones in this suburban yard that never hosted bluebirds before. We always kind of thought that the fifth bluebird brought a message perhaps, a message that mom was about to get her wings and fly.
Now, I still consider myself a scientist of sorts, a wildlife biologist by training. I know how the scientific method works, and the universal predictability of phenomena which are tested, proven and true. And yet…… I have also seen many other things in my years on this earth. There are so many other things yet to discover, even the reason for a bluebird dropping down on a snowy morning and feeding from a woman’s hand, on the day of her mother’s passing.
Bob Hinkle, Naturalist