the little nuthatch runs up & down & upside down & up & down one tree trunk then another.
Winter & the Nuthatch
Once or twice & maybe again, who knows,
the timid nuthatch will come to me
if I stand still, with something good to eat in my hand.
The first time he did it
he landed smack on his belly, as though
the legs wouldn’t cooperate. The next time
he was bolder. Then he became absolutely
wild about those walnuts.
But there was a morning I came late &, guess what,
the nuthatch was flying into a stranger’s hand.
To speak plainly, I felt betrayed.
I wanted to say: Mister, that nuthatch & I have a relationship.
It took hours of standing in the snow
before he would drop from the tree & trust my fingers.
But I didn’t say anything.
Nobody owns the sky or the trees.
Nobody owns the hearts of birds.
Still, being human & partial therefore to my own
though not resentful of others fashioning theirs—
I’ll come tomorrow, I believe, quite early.
—Mary Oliver, from Red Bird
Winter & the Nuthatch ©Beacon Press, 2008
the provided link is from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds website.