Reader Contributions

Tufty

by Emerald Dunne, 15, Mansfield, MO

It was one of those quintessential spring days—the sapphire skies were replete with fleecy piles of white clouds, the lawn was soft and verdant, and the breeze was tenderly caressing my face. The weather was sublime, perfect for lazing around under the regal maple tree in my front yard. I was devouring a good book and not paying much attention to the delightful world around me. That is, until I sensed an inquisitive something in the whispering foliage over my head. Suddenly, I wasn’t paying attention to my book any more. I was wide awake. What was in the tree? I listened intently. I tried to stay perfectly still, hoping that my new friend would venture a little closer. But he didn’t; he flew away.

I went back to my book, but my mind was not on what I was reading. The slightest rustle in the leaves above my head implored me to turn my eyes upward and search the leaves eagerly for any sign of a bird. For long minutes I sat there, while the inquisitive something overhead played peek-a-boo with my ears. Now I hear him; now I don’t. Now I hear him; now I don’t.

Finally, the inquisitive something showed himself. A little gray head flaunting a playful gray crest and a cute black mask, peeked around the edge of the tree trunk, just a few inches away from me. I gasped in excitement—a Tufted Titmouse! My favorite bird!

The petite little head disappeared around the trunk of the friendly old tree, and I was left to—well, I was going to wonder if Tufty (as I had instantly named him) would come back, but he peeped around the other side of the tree before I had a chance to wonder.

I quickly decided to ease myself into a better position—one where I could look up at Tufty, instead of straining to see him out of the corner of my eye. I lay down on my stomach at the base of the tree and waited expectantly. Ooohhh, why did I have to lie down on top of a gnarly root? Ouch! Why did the little bird stay away so long? Wasn’t he coming back?

As the root dug unmercifully into me, I noticed some telltale noises. It sounded like a little Tufted Titmouse’s feet were scratching and clinging to the tree trunk. Hmmm. Pretty soon, the telltale noises materialized into an adorable bird perching just above my head, eyeing me curiously. He cocked his head, and it seemed as though he was asking me whether or not I was nice to titmice. And then he surprised me. He cocked his head, he fluttered his wings, and before I knew it, he was sitting on my head! It was a breathtaking experience. I was shocked, jubilant, amazed, and awed all at once.

Before I had much time to mull over the fact that a Tufted Titmouse was sitting on my head, I felt a strong yank on my hair. Ouch! This little bird was more than inquisitive; he was determined to have some of my hair. I think he was alarmed at his own boldness, though, and he flittered away. Surely he will come back, I thought. I waited eagerly, and before long, he did.

Tufty yanked and pulled and jerked on my hair until my scalp was aching. He perched on my glasses to get at my hair from a different angle, and yanked and pulled and jerked some more. I would have gladly given Tufty a few strands of hair for his nest, but unfortunately, my locks are firmly rooted. After I endured several moments of enjoyable agony, Tufty decided his efforts were futile and flew off. I lay there in amazement for a few moments, and then I got up and went inside. What a thrilling experience with one of God’s most adorable creatures!

My Friendly Scarecrow

by Verna Marie King, 12, Lancaster, PA

I put the dirty, old clothes beside the washing machine. This was what was left of my scarecrow. I call it a scarecrow, though it certainly wasn’t used to scare any crows, but to help me tame birds that came to our feeder.

Quite awhile ago I had made this scarecrow with a feed sack stuffed with hay. I had dressed it with old clothes. I added a thin pillowcase with a bandana for the head and set "Susy" on a plastic chair a short distance from the bird feeder with a worn tablecloth hanging from her lap to the ground.

Then I let the birds get used to her and moved her toward the feeder bit by bit. Finally the birds ate off of Susy, and I became a bit impatient to go outside.

As soon as I had time, I put on her clothes, including the pillowcase in which I had cut holes for the eyes. I was thrilled when my first visitor, a titmouse, landed on me and picked up a seed before going up into a tree to eat it. A day or two later, a Downy Woodpecker came, perched on my knee, and helped himself to a few bites of suet. In between bites he looked up at me and bobbed his black-striped head back and forth in his comical way. If I had dared, I probably would have laughed out loud.

Finally a few days later, a chickadee landed on my thumb. This was the first time any bird had been where I could really feel it. Feeling those tiny feet and knowing that such a wild bird could be so trusting is a thrill that is hard to describe. So if you want to know how it feels, hurry outside and make yourself a scarecrow (or bird tamer) and set it close to your feeder.

Wishing you success!

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