A Pine Siskin That Didn’t Want Wet Feet

Early this morning, under a low, murky gray sky, with a damp and chilling northwest wind, a perky Pine Siskin came to the birdbath in the front yard for a drink. The brownish feathers on its head were raised into a slight, ruffled point, its small body was slender, its posture erect, and it was covered in neat dark streaks, with only the slightest hint of yellow in the wings. For a minute or two, it sat there, looking around, but never completely still for a second, seeming almost to vibrate all over with energy from within.

It had come for a drink, but faced a problem. Only a small amount of shallow, leafy water remained in the bottom of the birdbath, and from its perch on the rim, the Siskin could not reach it. It leaned down toward the puddle of water, clinging to the rim with its thin, bare bird-feet, and straightened back up. It worked around the rim of the birdbath to another position, and tried again from there. No luck. I wondered why it didn’t just hop closer down to the water, but it didn’t – instead, it worked its way all around the rim, trying again and again to reach the water from its dry-footed perch there. I have to admit, I wouldn’t have wanted to get my bare feet wet in that cold, damp wind either, but most of the time birds seem to not to mind a lot of things I might.

Finally, after going around full circle once and halfway around again, it managed to find a spot where it could lean way over, turn its head sideways, and scoop up some water.

It didn’t look very satisfactory, and the Siskin flew up to a branch, giving up. A few minutes later, two more Pine Siskins flew to the birdbath rim – and both of these hopped right down to the bottom, stood on some damp, soggy leaves, and helped themselves to a drink.

Before I went inside, I rinsed out the birdbath and filled it with fresh water.

Leave a Reply