I like chickadees. They’ve got balls.
They’re the toughest little buggers out there. Few creatures are as plucky and cheerful as the half ounce of concentrated indomitable moxie that is a chickadee. Deep wilderness or urban backyard? It doesn’t matter to a chickadee. I’ve seen ’em in swamps, mountains, forests, hedgerows, mall parking lots, tall trees, short bushes, canoe gunnels, and hunting blinds.
Where they really shine is cold weather. When I’m in the deep forest freezing my balls off in a miserable snowstorm, there’s a good chance a chickadee is nearby; happily flitting around looking for six calories to make it another hour. Brutal cold ‘aint no thang to a chickadee. Eagles will flake and run where a chickadee will fluff up and sit on a spruce bough like it doesn’t give a shit. You know why? Because they don’t. Pound for pound a chickadee has courage the likes of which killer whales and grizzly bears couldn’t muster. Chickadees might die but they’re never subdued:
“I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever feeling sorry for itself.” – D. H. Lawrence
I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for the little bastards. I even put up feeders. My feeders attract all sorts of more exotic songbirds too. I could ohhh and ahhh over them but who cares about flowery little chickenshits that run south at the first flake of snow? The feeders are for my chickadees; who, quite frankly, don’t need my help.
One feeder in particular is a gift to myself. I was cruising down a rural backroad when I saw a cute little farmhouse with a “for sale” sign and eleventy zillion feeders and birdhouses. Someone had made them, hung them up, put up the sign, and was selling them from his yard. Who knows how many he sold? Some of them were pretty elaborate and others were plain. I pictured some sweet retired old coot with a tastefully appointed woodshop churning out dozens of these things; each one lovingly crafted while he played Sinatra on his garage radio and smoked a pipe. (I’ve got an active imagination.)
Each one had a price tag. It was my birthday so I picked a plain Jane version, stuffed the price (with an extra $5, just ’cause) in a little ornamented wood box he’d left out, tossed the feeder in my truck, and drove off. Never met the guy. I hope he sells them all.