For the past few days a Yellow Warbler has been fluttering in front of my full glass window and frequently pecking it. My knowledge of different bird varieties is non-existent. Other than knowing that they are birds, I know nothing about them. So it took me some quick research to find out which particular bird has been striking against the window and why. This is where the near magical power of the Internet comes in.
I went online this morning to find out the kind of birds that are seen in the Chicago area this time of year. The Chicago Botanic Garden website has a specific list of migrating birds that show up not just around this time generally but specifically in the month of May. The science of ornithology is remarkably accurate and the only person I know among my friends who breaks into childlike enthusiasm about it is Yashesh Chhaya. I am sure he would have told me instantly which bird is fluttering in front of my window. It was too early to wake him up in time for this post. Coming back to the list on the Chicago Botanic Garden website, I found several birds. I had a hunch that this was a warbler, or a songbird, of some kind. So I copy-pasted Yellow Warbler in the Google Search. It instantly showed several images. I knew that was the bird. This is ornithology on the cheap.
It took me some reading to find out that perhaps the reason why they flutter in front of the glass windows and peck is because they see their own reflection and consider them to be a rival. After a long winter a rival is the last thing they want while foraging. I am hard-pressed to understand the rival part because that is the only bird I see in my vicinity. (The picture above is not the Yellow Warbler in my glass window but a generic shot. The bird that I am writing about is not so strikingly yellow).
There is so much urgency in the way the lovely bird flutters and pecks that one gets the sense it must really not like rivals. The ritual goes on for less than a minute. It happens in the morning and evening. At some level you have to be rather charmingly silly to be threatened your own reflection. But then there is a reason why the expression birdbrain exists. I would much rather be a birdbrain and look so pretty than have a big brain and bring so much ugliness to the world.