Friday, November 7, 2008

The Power of the Chickadee

Photo by Jim Peaco

An American Indian Legend - Nation Unknown
We'll talk about Thunder-Lightning and the Eagle. They say that Thunder and the Eagle are fast friends. Long ago, Thunder spoke to every wild creature -- everything that flew or everything with four legs -- and to the Eagle he said,"I appoint you ruler.
You must have a meeting with all the wild creatures, and you must answer all their requests. If you think they [the creatures] should be a certain way,you make them that way. You must ask them what they want to be," said Thunder.

So the Eagle called a meeting. All kinds of birds came to it.

When they arrived, the meeting was called to order. He [the Eagle] asked each of them what he wanted to be able to do.

The thing I especially remember about the doings of the Eagle is that he gave a power to the Chickadee. He [the Chickadee] was given the power to be something like a fortune teller among people in that he could go where people were, and if they were going to have visitors, he could inform them ahead of time. This could be done by flying to a tree near them and singing a joyous song.
"Would you give me that kind of power?" asked the Chickadee. So he was given that power. That's why the Cherokees say when they see a chickadee fly into a tree, "The Chickadee says somebody is coming." That's the power that was given to him they say.

Source: First People-The Legends

Every birder knows the call of the chickadee. He always announces his presence before going for his favorite perch on the feeder. When I hear him, I know others will follow. He will not only bring the rest his family, but other chickadees who have joined him for the fall and winter as well as nuthatches and the tufted titmouse family who have decided to hang out with him because he always seems to know where the best places are to get food when the going gets rough.

I have a special fondness for the chickadee and go out of my way to make sure that the ones who frequent my yard have all of the necessities of the wild, plus tasty treats they can only get at the feeder. I recall a morning this past April when the air was warm enough to open my porch. I went onto my computer and was sipping my coffee totally oblivious to the world around me. I was reading my email as I was working on a work project and got up early to start it when my brain tuned onto a song that was probably going on for quite some time, but it just didn't register.

I sat there quietly trying to figure out what kind of creature could be singing a tune as lovely as the one I was hearing. It started off with two syllables but then the mystery guest wowed me by adding another note that went something like this.

Phee Bee

Phee Bee

Phee Bee

Phee Bee Fe

Phee Bee Fe.

The song was so lovely I got off my work tired butt and decided to try and look out the window in an attempt to see the bird that was singing his heart out for me. It was still dark out and I couldn't find him. Disappointed, I went about my morning routine and forgot about my new morning friend. Later in the day I remembered that wonderful song and asked a couple of co-workers if they knew of a bird who could not just sing bird songs, but songs that have a rhythm and pattern similar to how humans play and sing music. I even went as far as to whistle the tune for them which concerned them because this was the first time I had ever even mentioned birds and now I was sitting there trying to pretend I was one singing their  song. Needless to say, none of them had ever heard of it and I started to believe that perhaps I was imagining things.

Later this past June I was sleeping in my sun porch and I heard that song again. I woke up in a groggy attempt to figure out if I was dreaming or if my feathered friend had come back to sing me his now familiar tune. I jumped off the couch and searched the tree where the sound was coming from. I finally saw the bird and squinted to see if I could figure out what kind if was (I had one bird book now so I was getting pretty good at this!!). To my amazement, the bird I saw was..........a mockingbird..........................
Now I know the mockingbird is a fantastic songster, probably one of the best who could put Pavarotti to shame, but it didn't make any sense. The mockingbird sang in an erratic way and never sang anything long enough for me to figure it out and now he was singing this sweet melody. Mockingbirds voice ranges are kind of high when they want to be but not soft and subdued like the one I had heard. For about 2 weeks I went around thinking that mockingbirds were musical geniuses and would search for them in hopes I could hear their song again.
One afternoon while gardening, I did indeed hear that song again and searched for the mockingbird. To my astonishment, the only bird that was on that tree was my little friend the chickadee. I remained as quiet as a mouse and watched him sing his song. He sat there as still as I was singing my beloved Phee Bee Fe song.
Now I know why the Indians admired the chickadee as much as they did. That little bird awakens me every morning with his cheerful tunre and sings his beloved song for me when the weather is warm. I now make sure I listen to the sounds of nature in hopes I can hear other things as lovely as his sweet melody. It forces you to stop and look and hear things that many of us too often ignore because we are so caught up in our time schedules. We listen to our cell phones ringing, our politicians ranting and our inner voices telling us we cannot stop, we must keep going for there is not enough time in our day to enjoy the simple things in life. The chickadee is only living for that one moment in time. To have his first morning meal, to bathe himself in the warm sun and to sing his heart our for those who will listen.
Chickadee Bird Song Link:


Tera Rose said...

followed you over from Jaynes... I too am a new birder...

my 5 year old daugher, quite the math girl, counted hawks on our high way each day. One day she squealed with delight because there were two HUGE hawks; I slammed on my discover a pair of bald eagles.

I had no idea they were in our town!

So we googled...found the brownstone birder...a blogging birder in our area...found the eagle festival and have been HOOKED ever since!'s awesome.

AND the black capped chickadee...he's my daughter's favorite and she waits for them every day! Her hope is to feed them from hand..and they almost let her get just close enough.

Jayne said...

What a sweet story Kallen. As a thought, your mockingbird might really have been an Eastern Phoebe.

For that is the tell tale song of the Phoebe, and though his coloration is similar, he is smaller than a mocker and has less white on the wings. They are adorable singers. :c)

Beth said...

I followed you from Jayne's spot, too, and am so glad to have found you. I am a middle-aged novice bird watcher, too--and as an added bonus I have terrible eyesight. But I do love nature and read everything that I can about birds. I will enjoy following your journey.

NCmountainwoman said...

Like a lemming, I followed everyone over from Jayne's blog. I'll be interested in following your posts.


Related Posts with Thumbnails