I was staring meditatively out the upstairs bathroom window while brushing my teeth a few days ago. It was snowing, as usual, and something slate-colored flashed among the flakes, followed by another slightly duller, slate-colored something. When they alighted on the roof of their tiny nest box on the wall of the garage, I recognized my crazy bluebird and his patient wife.
For the last two years I watched the male arrive when the snow was still deep on the ground, and spend days on the treetops, yodeling to entice his mate to a nest box ridiculously close to our porch and clearly intended for wrens. Then, for hours and days on end, while she was busy laying eggs, he would bang feet-first into the window despite our best efforts to dissuade him, for the sheer fun of driving the dog insane.
So now, in the middle of a February blizzard, here was the couple, like a pair of human "snowbirds" come to check that the pipes hadn't frozen in their Vermont summer residence.
I lay all this at the feet of the azure-winged, sunset-chested male, who, once an idea, no matter how foolish, lodges in his tiny brain, is unable to let it go. His browner, duller, but more sensible wife would, if left to her devices, only show up in proper nest-building weather, when the sap is running and six-legged beings, the bluebirds' only diet, are starting to move around. But in this bug-free, merciless season, what can two insectivores find to eat?
The nest-box must have been in good order, because I didn't see the pair again and concluded that, satisfied with their home inspection, they had flown back to Dixie. But a couple of days ago, when I opened the hen-house door to let in a bit of sun before the next nor'easter hit, I heard the clear notes of my crazy bluebird, calling in vain for spring in the woods behind the house.