It is a quiet afternoon. You've given yourself over to reading on your patio, your only company the birds--sparrows, finches, doves--swooping in and out of your bird feeders.
They used to be shy creatures, forever dissuaded from your patio by the cats with the hungry eyes in the patio above yours. You courted them night and day with bird seed and three homemade feeders you crafted out of small colorful colanders and fishing wire. You wanted to thank those birds for their songs, their morning chatter that serves as your natural alarm clock. Finally, after hanging your feeders beneath your herbs--as far away from those cats as possible--and filling them up with thick, black sunflower seeds, you find the little birds at home on your patio.
You pause momentarily, lifting your head from your book to enjoy the quiet spring afternoon. And then a red-breasted finch swoops into the turquoise feeder closer to you, swaying gently in time with the rocking of the feeder. It eyes you as if afraid you might chase it away or take its seeds. It is fast and efficient, cracking the thick sunflower shells and gobbling their flesh in gluttonous delight. Another bird flies toward the same feeder, this one a dusty brown but just as small as the finch splashed with red--its mate, perhaps. You keep still; you don't want the flutter of a turned page to frighten off your friends. They are so much more graceful than the pigeons and doves that swoop into the feeders as big as they are, forcing the metal colanders to clack and cling against your patio railing. No, these little finches nibble and sway in time with the feeders.
Without thinking about it, you set your book down. With that one swift movement, you startle the finches and they take off with a quick flap of their wings, nothing but spent sunflower shells scattering in their wake.
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