Deidre Silverman: Bird in Hand

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Deidre Silverman has an encounter with a common house finch that brings her closer to the total picture.

I was raking leaves in my backyard recently on a crisp, October morning. There was much activity nearby as the pyracantha bush was in full bloom and many birds were feasting on the red berries.

Suddenly a wave of birds flew from the bush, flying in all directions. One wayward flyer headed toward my house, hit the window and fell to the ground. I ran to find a small finch, lying on its side, very still. I cupped my hand over the warm, feathered body, being careful not to move it, just providing warmth … and waited. Sitting motionless for several minutes, not knowing whether the bird was dead or alive, I finally was rewarded with a blink, nothing more, just a flutter of the eye which indicated the little creature was alive.

I lifted my hand slightly to gain a better look at my newfound ward. Soft layerings of pinfeather upon feather, artfully marked around the face and beak, no doubt provided a protective camouflage for this house finch. The soft upper feathering gave way to larger quilled tail feathers, perfectly positioned, providing an evenness of balance from head to tail. The house finch, from a distance, would suggest a rather ordinary-looking bird, but from my vantage point, the details and markings evidenced a remarkable work of nature.

For a brief moment in time, I warmed a wild creature beneath my hand and, with its closeness and momentary need, I thought about the genesis which binds us all together.


A few more minutes passed; I slowly removed my hand. The bird shook its feathers, looked sideways, took one glance at me … then flew, quickly blending in with the trees, the sky, the total picture.

With a Perspective, I’m Deidre Silverman.

Deidre Silverman lives in San Rafael.