Bird Watcher's General Store

Favorite Bird - 10/03/03


Dear Bird Folks:

At a party the other night we were discussing our favorite birds. Then we started wondering what your favorite bird is. We all took a guess and my job was to write to you to find out if any of us were right. So, what is your favorite bird?

-Monica, Barnstable

Really Monica,

You went to a party and played "Name your favorite bird?" Talk about living life on the edge. I hope your kids don't find out what you do at night. Did the cops come by to break it up?

My favorite bird eh? I feel like I'm being interviewed for a teen magazine. Fine, I'll tell you my favorite bird. Maybe next week I'll tell you my favorite movie, my sign, and my turn ons and turn offs.

As far as I'm concerned, all birds are great. They all have fascinating behavior, incredible survival skills and diversified beauty. Yet only one bird has all the best qualities wrapped up in one package. The Black-capped Chickadee is by far the best bird ever invented. I know, right now there are millions of readers (or at least dozens) screaming "Chickadee, no way!" To which I reply, "way". Chickadees have it all. Let us count the ways.

First of all they are so stinkin' cute. Many birds have flashier colors, but with the fancy colors comes a snotty attitude. The beautiful spring warblers can't be bothered coming close enough for us to appreciate their colors. They zip about high in the tree tops and could care less that we must suffer permanent neck damage staring straight up for hours, hoping for a glimpse. Meanwhile, the inquisitive little chickadee will come to the branch just above your head, or it will even land on your head if you are pleasant enough.

As a guy who makes a living selling bird stuff, chickadees are the perfect bird. They eat just about every type of seed. They love suet. They nest in birdhouses and they come to birdbaths. Chickadees alone could put my kids through college, if, for some reason, one of my kids was accepted to a college.

Over the course of a year, Cape Cod is visited by close to 350 different species of birds, but very few can claim that they are here year round. Some birds (and many people) hate the heat, hate the cold or hate the crowds. To them the grass is always greener. But our chickadees are with us 24/7/365. They are able to deal with the hot, crowded summers and have learned to adapt to the freezing, boring winters. And never once do they complain about either. How many of you can say that?

Speaking of complaining, have you ever heard anyone complain about a chickadee? Has its sweet little song ever woken you up at 6:00 AM or have they ever taken a bite out of anything in your garden? Have they ever made a mess on your boat or drilled holes in the side of your house or charged anything on your credit card without your permission? I'm telling you these birds are perfect.

I know there are plenty of cardinal fans screaming that cardinals are the best. Please. Cardinals are a bunch of sissies. Think about it. Any time there is a predator around, crows, jays and chickadees are the first ones to sound the alarm. Meanwhile the cardinals are nowhere to be seen. Most of the time they don't even show up at our feeders until it's almost dark.

Keep in mind Monica, that I enjoy all birds. Just because I think chickadees are the best (and they are), that doesn't mean other birds aren't wonderful. Okay, maybe calling cardinals a bunch of sissies was a little strong, but I'm still not taking it back.

Before I sign off, here are a few other birds that are popular, but have one thing or another that keeps them from being my favorite:

Loon: Handsome in the summer, boring brown in the winter.

Hummingbird: Way, way,way too hyper. They need to chill.

Titmouse: A totally embarrassing name.

Catbird: It would be a good choice if it didn't have the "C" word in its name.

Great Blue Heron: Reminds me too much of Florida.

Peacock: Tries too hard.

Parrots: Forget it. If you want something that talks back, get a teenager.

Falcon: No way, they eat chickadees.

Pelican: Needs to work on its breath.

Sandpiper: Too confusing.

Bluebird: State bird of New York. The Yankees live in New York.

Crows: Very sad. The way they dress reminds me of the late Johnny Cash.

Ducks: They seem so distant.

Piping Plover: Hogs the headlines.

Goldfinch: Way too much molting.

Blue Jay: On the edge. They could snap any minute.

Baltimore Oriole: Hello. It's from Baltimore.

Artwork by Catherine Clark



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