We don’t have chickadees here; they are completely out of my experience. But ‘chickadees’ is the prompt on Nahaiwrimo today, so I had to look them up.
They are of the genus Poecile, a northern hemisphere genus. Titmouse is another name for them, apparently. I’m so pleased that I now know a titmouse is not actually a mouse. See how haiku can increase your education!
Also I went to YouTube and found out some fascinating stuff, like: they live through long winter nights and short foraging days by lowering their internal temperatures. They can feed upside down. Their hippocampus grows in autumn and winter so that they have more memory and can remember where they left their food stash. (I could use a little hippocampus growing, now and again.) Their chickadeedeedee call varies according to the level of threat. They have another high-pitched alarm call that other types of bird respond to. They have a call that people name their, ‘Hey, Sweetie!’ call. It’s used to attract females.
That set me to thinking about humans and how we love to give names to the behaviours of the animals and birds around us. ‘Hey, Sweetie’ sounds very American to me. We’d probably say, it’s the bird’s ‘Hey Sexy legs’ call, or something equally unromantic, inappropriate and funny.
Which brings me to small Australian birds. Such a wealth! Yesterday I held in my hands a Spotted Pardalote because he trapped himself inside. Oh what an exquisite little bird is that. At the birdbath these days, we have both the striped and the spotted pardalotes, about five different species of honey eaters, a golden robin and white-capped (red-breasted) robin, blue wrens, mistletoe birds, red-browed finches, tiny striated thornbills, and fantails. Oh my heart, it bursts.
We have our own names for them: thornbills are ‘pebbles’, we call the New England Honey eater ‘Sunday dresser’ because he looks like he’s got an evening coat on, and we call the grey fantail ‘cheeky shit’ because when he gets caught inside and we catch him to set him free, he doesn’t fly off in a panic like the others, he flies just out of reach and turns around and scolds us! He even has a little mark on his brow that makes him look as of he is frowning.
just a heartbeat
cloaked in feathers
a handful of pardalote
an elegant landing
the hunting fantail
from the lamb’s ears
a beak full of fuzz
just beyond the pane
the spread wings of a fantail
in the busy bush
a sudden silence
(‘Lamb’s ears’ is a plant with grey fluffy leaves)