I put a bird feeder by our kitchen and I sit with the window open, trying to catch them in flight. It's tricky because those little buggers fly by at 50 miles an hour. Sometimes I can get them as they are flying toward me...that gives me an extra second. And sometimes, as in this case, I get lucky when a bird decides to fly after I've already started to take the shot.
They make the softest, fluttering sound. I love this. It's right up there with an infant's breath when I hold him against my shoulder, and of course it's up with the sound of snow falling, or the sound of the ocean at flat calm. That sounds like nothing or sometimes it sounds like shhhhh or zzzzz as the water moves with the current, folding down, zipping itself along the shore. Here on the island, especially in winter, you can hear the smallest things.
There are eleven birds in this picture, I think. I was hoping for a twelfth bird of Christmas, but as far as I can tell, it's eleven. And here is a closer shot of just one bird. He looks small enough, and I can tell you from experience, if you held him, he would seem smaller still. Him with his hollow bones, so strong and light and graceful for flight, and his pat-of-butter sized body, and the downy fluff that triples his size and weighs about as much as the air. He is outlandishly red (and he's more skittish than chicadees on account of it) and when the wind blows you can see he's grey underneath. He has a wildly beating molecule for a heart. He's such a small, so easily freezable person but he flies out there, sleeps out there, stays out there. That gets me. Week after week, through the whole winter, he matches his tiny body to our vast, unstoppable, cold ocean wind, and lives.
May you have a Merry Christmas in the company of loved ones, and I hope you stay out of the wind. And I hope you have a moment to hear the smallest sounds of the great wild winter and may you easily return to the warmth of your sheltering home.