I push back the hood of my coat until it falls from my head and settles around my neck. The sun blankets my face in response. Despite the temperature hovering just a hair below freezing, the cloak of day warms me, shrouds me in light that keeps me from noticing the cold seeking to penetrate my sun-weaved cover.
My back rests against the trunk of a pecan tree, a massive fellow who bears me no ill will for nestling against his frame as I sit and listen, watch, soak in the scene of birds and squirrels dashing about in search of breakfast.
Then from above and behind me a raucous voice yells out. I lean left then right trying to peek around the tree. Neither direction allows me to see who’s having a bad day, so I stand for a clearer view.
A tufted titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor). Sure I recognized the voice, but I always like to put a face with the screaming.
Spirited little critters, this species. Small in stature yet large in spirit. Or at least large in attitude.
Yet looking at the bird, I can’t for the life of me determine why it fusses so vehemently. No competition near it. No predators lurking about waiting to pounce. In fact, the little scoundrel appears to be mad at the world, yelling accusations for all to hear.
I take a few steps back for a slightly different view, at which point the bird flits to a different branch. Good, it’s closer than the original perch.
Silence. Just a watchful eye.
Being silly yet sincere, I quietly ask, “What’s got you so flustered?”
My oh my! What a tirade! What a trail of insults and arguments!
Only then does it occur to me that perhaps the tiny giant and I are having a moment of some kind, a disagreement in which I am a party but to which I am not privy.
So I take a few more backward steps.
Boom! Right on the tree I’d been resting against, right at eye level. And staring right at me.
Maybe a second passes as the bird sizes me up, looks me up and down, determines my threat level.
Seeing I don’t intend to attack, don’t intend to fight for rights to the tree, it turns, faces skyward, looks at the trunk and branches stretching out before it. Somehow I feel it’s appreciating its trophy, its hard-earned prize.
Then it proceeds up the side of the tree, stopping here and there to investigate places where food might be hiding.
I chuckle to myself as I watch the titmouse, then I say, “All you had to do was ask.”