There's Always the Kestrel

with thanks to Rick Bartow

with thanks to Rick Bartow

I come home from the gallery in a mood to see.  It was an exhibit of Rick Bartow,  and it was mostly birds. I love Rick Bartow's birds. So now I am in a mood to see my own birds,  the ones around the yard.

Juncos at junco feeder, goldfinches at thistlefeeder- beginning with juncos being sparrows, I go bird book to dictionary: a mass of small birds whose name goes back to Teutonic tongues, lost there in Old Prussian. I flip dictionary pages, sparrow to junco. Nothing.

Back to the bird book: the pink-sided junco lives on the east coast, yellow-eyed junco in Mexico, dark-eyed junco in big square Rocky states. The white-winged junco is an Iowa-Nebraska kind of bird. Leaving the dark-eyed junco. The juncos at my feeder are dark-hooded, with pale tawny breasts, flirty white tails. I go to another bird book, find the dark-eyed junco, also called Oregon junco.

This book, however, claims the junco is a finch.

I move on to goldfinch, and not the bright thistlefinch of my youth, flitting among purple flowers, lavender and yellow of my favorite Easter dress, my German grandmother said Distilfink. No. This is lesser goldfinch or the nomadic pine siskin.

Dictionary to bird book and bird book and bird book, while the American kestrel waits in the walnut tree across the street.