For most of the day on Thursday, I wondered at the profusion of birds whose cheeping seemed to be filling the air outside my kitchen, but as the afternoon wore on, I realized that the sounds—like a cross between a puppy’s squeeze toy and a handful of fingernails scraping across a chalk board or 5 squeegees being pulled across dry glass—was coming from my kitchen. A dining room chair served as a step up to the counter top, where I stood as I removed the terracotta statues and pots from the top of my cupboards. The sounds seemed to be coming from there, but I found nothing but a half-inch crack between the concrete wall overhang and a triangular piece of board that had been placed in the corner to seal the gap.
I went outside to see if I could locate what I now was sure was a nest of baby birds making all the racket, but I could see no place other than the half-cylindrical teja roof tiles where the nest could be. Meanwhile, every time I drew close to the corner where the sound was coming from, they grew quiet, but when I whistled for the dogs, the little chirping choir resumed, as though I’d called out to them and they were answering. The next morning, I feared the worse, as for an hour there was no sound, but when Yolanda arrived to clean, they started out again, and she was as intrigued as I was about where they could be. We got a ladder and Pasiano climbed up to inspect every inch of area on the outside of the house where they could be. He peered up a six foot long expanse of tejas but could see nothing up the tubes for as far as he could see. Yet the chirping went on for all of yesterday as well as today.
The biggest part of the mystery is that I have never seen a parent bird enter the tejas from any side. The babies are quiet in between chirpings, which seems to indicate a mother bird arriving with fresh nestling fuel, but I can’t figure out how she is getting to the nest—wherever it is. Needless to say, as irritating as their shrill chirpings have grown to be, I prefer them to the opposite—the silence that indicates the mother has not been coming back and that her nestlings have met with a premature demise.
Birds abound here, if not in the same profusion as when 13-year-old vines covered every surface of the walls and palms, but this morning I was awakened by the loud peckings of three woodpeckers on the now-exposed trunks of my 80-foot-high palm trees. I scrunched my eyes up to watch them hop up and down a 20 foot expanse of palm, working their way around the circumference of the tree as well as up and down, their very loud pecking forming a percussion background to the chirping coming from the kitchen. For once, I knew where my camera was, so I snapped a few shots.
I had thought to spend this day in isolation to get some writing done, but sometimes the quieter our day, the more activity we find in it. Bottle rockets as loud as cherry bombs have been going off in the hills all around me for the past two hours. I don’t know what the celebration may be, but I’ve grown accustomed to their weekly if not daily presence. There is a birthday or a communion or a wedding or a quinceañera being celebrated. Or a holy day or some national holiday.
Even if I stay inside my house and do not answer the phone, the world finds me and I can’t complain, for I always have something to write about, even if it is not the topic I had planned.