WILDLIFE

We spend too much on birdseed.
Before we lived here,
before our big house became master of these woods,
the great-grandparents of our current tree neighbors
found something to eat
or went south for the winter.
But now these freeloaders,
these young whippersnappers of the modern generation,
wait by our four feeders.
They prefer the sunflower,
though the suet receives a fair share of attention.
And on top of that,
they have invited all their woodland buddies to the feast,
the turkeys, the deer, the skunks, a fox or two,
but especially the squirrels.
We buy and fill and buy again,
aware that expectations are high
in an upscale community.

SWIFT

Two years ago
in April
the swifts made a nest in our chimney.
I heard the babies chirping
small echoes through the den.
My husband supposed my fancy
Had once again
overtaken my good sense
until that is
the babies got bigger and their peeps
became shrieks.

We called the exterminator.
Not bats, he said.
It’s swifts.
Too bad.

Swifts it turns out
are protected.
Their habitat is gone
and once they decide to live with you
You have to share.
Wait till autumn and when they move off
put a screen on the chimney.

In the meantime
we shared.
We’d watch at sunset
as they’d make big circles around the roof
catching mosquitoes
to feed their little screamers.
Get those buggers, we’d yell
encouraging.

In August
one bird flew down the chimney
sweeping our heads
interrupting  dinner.
Stewart the cat
quick to the challenge
caught the swift mid-air and ran upstairs
to extend the game.
We managed a rescue
when Stewart released the bird
for the joy of recapture.
Wrapped in a fresh-laundered shirt
the creature throbbed in panic.
We opened the window
popped out the screen
and shook the bird loose.
She flew off
swift as her name.

We poured some wine
and resumed our dinner
and toasted the swift and the cat
and our luck
with houseguests.