Published Sunday, December 23, 2012

Stanley Tate: My favorite bird

Column by Stanley Tate

Special to The Newnan Times-Herald

Dear Birdman:

At a party the other night we were discussing our favorite birds. Then we started wondering what your favorite bird is. We all took a guess and my job was to write to you to find out if anyone was right. So, what is your favorite bird?

Mary

Are you for real, Mary?

You went to a party and played “Name your favorite bird?” Talk about living on the edge. What was in your red Solo cups?

My favorite bird — I feel like I’m being interviewed for MTV. But because you were brave enough to tell me why you asked I’ll answer your question. Maybe next month I’ll tell you my favorite movie and my sign.

I think all birds are great. They all have beauty, fascinating behaviors, and incredible survival skills. But the Carolina Chickadee has all the best qualities wrapped up in one neat little package. I know right now you are screaming, “Chickadee, no way!” To which I reply, “Way—chickadees have it all.” They are the perfect bird.

First, they are cute. Some birds look and act like scruffy ruffians. A Carolina Chickadee looks like the nice and well bred guy you want your daughter to bring home. Other birds have flashier colors but with the fancy colors come an attitude. For example, the beautiful spring warblers can’t be bothered to come close enough for us to appreciate their colors. They flit about high in the treetops, hiding behind leaves, and couldn’t care less if we suffer permanent neck damage staring straight up for hours hoping for a glimpse. Meanwhile, the inquisitive little chickadee will come to a limb just above your head. One may even land on your head if you are pleasant enough and your hair is clean.

Carolina Chickadees eat just about every kind of caterpillar, spider, or seed. They love bug eggs and suet. They nest in birdhouses and old woodpecker holes and they come to birdbaths. In the winter they sleep in the same places.

This area is visited by about one hundred and sixty different birds in a year, but few stay here year round. Some birds hate our hot summers and some birds hate our cold winters. To these birds the grass is always greener some other place. But my chickadee is with us three hundred sixty-five days a year. He deals with the hot summers and the cold winters and never once does he complain about either.

Speaking of complaining, how many of you have ever heard anyone complain about a chickadee? Has one ever interrupted your sleep at 5 o’clock in the morning singing to his girlfriend? Has one ever taken a bite out of anything in your garden? Has one ever made a mess on your boat or drilled holes in the side of your house?

I know there are plenty of cardinal fans out there screaming that cardinals are the best. Please. Cardinals are a bunch of sissies. Any time there is a predator around, crows, Blue Jays, and chickadees are the first birds to sound the alarm. Meanwhile the cardinals are nowhere to be seen. And most of the time they don’t even show up at your feeders until almost dark.

All that said I enjoy every bird. Just because I think chickadees are the best doesn’t mean other birds aren’t wonderful too.

Let’s have a party.

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