Spring arrives on the twentieth of March. Soon thereafter the lovely songbirds that fly south for the winter make a delightful appearance. When they arrive in Vermont they are in full color to entice a mate. I know I’m not the mate they are looking to attract, but they are like those refrigerator magnets people put on their frig doors – only they don’t stay in one place. I can’t stop myself from running after them as they try to feed on the sections of the ground where the snow’s melted.
For some reason they always seem to arrive before they should. At least that’s what James says. I don’t get it since there are birds around here all year. Whatever!
It makes me laugh when I think some people actually assume I’m trying to herd these flighty birds. Of course I don’t want to drive them around, keeping them in order. The purpose behind all my running and chasing is to catch them. Otherwise I wouldn’t spend any time with them. Oh, okay, James and I do sit in the fields and listen to them during the spring and summer. I do this for his benefit. (I thought that might get me a treat – hummm.)
I’ve actually caught two birds in my short life, but I’m getting ahead of the story James wants me to tell. (Okay, he’s going to let me tell you that I caught two baby birds – one was a bunting and the other a turkey poult. I don’t care if they were babies and couldn’t fly yet. It still counts.) [While this is part of the natural course of nature, it still upset me.] (That was James adding his two cents – just sayin’.)
(Bunting babies by caroldukeflowers.com; turkey poult by thespruce.com)
Of course, turkeys aren’t songbirds. Still, Benjamin Franklin wanted it to be the United States’ national bird. Or so James told me. Seems kind of silly to me.
Talking about our national bird – the eagle – now that would be something to catch. I’m told its wingspan is longer than my body, and that eagles have talons that could rip a hole into my side. Still, a dog can dream. I have to admit that the ravens offer a poor substitute. Nonetheless, whenever they make their harsh, grating sound or their shrill alarm, it gets my attention and I’m off on the chase.
I’m not sure how bright they are since they often get my attention with their yapping before I even see them. It’s after they’ve taken flight that my fun begins. They start off low to the ground where I at least have a canine’s chance. It’s as if they’re weighted down, waiting for me to gain on them before they begin climbing out of reach. Still, it’s the pursuit that counts. I’m convinced I’ll catch one yet.
Their grating sound pales in comparison to the one the geese make. Now that noise (yes, to my ears it is a dreadful sound) makes my skin crawl. It is the one bird racket that makes me go crazy barking – and I don’t often bark. If I’m in the house, I’ll run from one end to the other and back again. Their squawk is so annoying. If I’m outside, I run around like crazy because I can never find them. James keeps pointing in the wrong direction from where their infuriating hullabaloo is coming. (I know he means well, but sometimes I simply don’t know what he’s up to.)
As for me, I don’t settle down until their clamor fades away. This is the one time James is happy to hear me bark. For you see, we have a pond these geese like to pollute. Working as a team, James and I keep them away from not only the pond, but from the yard as well. There are few things worse than having geese droppings squeeze between the pads on your paws – yuck!
I should change the subject. Here’s the poem James wrote about yours truly and birds. We hope you enjoy it.
spring brings the songbirds
whose beautiful singings
serve as a willing wakeup melody
it’s been some time since
you’ve seen these intriguing specks
as they fly through the sky
if you were a birddog
your interest would be understood
but you’re an Old English Sheepdog
do you think you can herd the birds
as they hop around
feeding on the ground
in their direction
mostly resembles stalking
is it the speed or thrill of the pursuit
as you gallop head down steely eyed
what would you do
if you were to catch one
a big black crow or magnificent raptor
at the end of your tenth month
I would have thought you’d know better
might think twice before jumping in
yet you are ever ready to
charge forward after slinking towards
your birds of prey
even when leashed you still
focus intently on the dark spots
made by the birds or an overgrown blade
holding you back is a lesson in itself
for if you charged you’d
likely take me with you
I thrill to the sight of you
lunging ever faster when off leash
cheering your running as the birds fly away
when only the other day a turkey outside our door
took flight as you took chase
at the end it was Tom who won that race
upon your return it didn’t seem to matter
to show for your effort
there isn’t even a feather
for you know all too well
life isn’t measured by notches on a belt
or feathers in a cap
but by the joy you’ve delivered
Now that’s so sweet of James to say I bring him joy. Here I’ve always thought the pleasure was mine. Perhaps a treat is in order, no? (YES! I scored. Not that I was begging mind you.)
So you know, the turkey in the poem is not the one I caught. At ten months I wasn’t that much bigger than the Tom when he’s all puffed up while courting. Still, they do offer a thrill when it comes to the sport of trying to catch them.
Nowadays I’m not often on leash. As such, I have free rein to run after any bird or other critter that crosses my path. I especially like going after the chipmunks and squirrels. Those little rodents seem never to be too far from an escape plan, whether it be up a tree, in a hole in the ground, or between the stones in a wall. Still, I like going after them. One of these days I’ll get lucky. Mark my words.
Speaking of words, we’d love to know if you’re enjoying reading about my first year and the different poems James wrote. If so, let us know in the comment section below. I always like to hear from you, so please feel free to leave me a note about this or anything else that’s on your mind.
Oh, and come back in two weeks to hear about my learning the game of fetch. Of course I’m not a Labrador or spaniel, but James was determined to teach me how to retrieve a ball. Come see how well, or not, I learned this trick.
Until next time,
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)