The Lone Ranger

With the development of our garden there has been an increase in bird activity. My husband and I have a favorite chair in our living room from which we watch the birds.  Sitting in this green armchair we can see, through the side glass door, a large clay bowl of water, nestled in the grass beneath a dawn redwood.  It is not uncommon to see wrens, jays, finch. flickers, woodpeckers, and doves visit this water feature regularly, perhaps because of its close proximity to low tree branches, affording protection. Alternately they fly from stems to the brim of the bowl and back, looking as if they are performing an aerial dance. 

One of our favorite birds, the Townsend Warbler comes in fall. One morning while drinking my tea I suddenly heard my husband exclaim “ooooh…there’s a Townsend Warbler.” I quickly joined him to watch.  The masked bird flit to a bough of the tree then back to the water. A black mask stretched across his eyes, bordered by bright yellow markings.  “He looks like the Lone Ranger” I replied. 

“They nest and reproduce in the coastal forests of the Pacific Northwest.  Then they go south for the winter" he said.


From my perspective the coloring is  comprised mostly of olive brown to chartreuse with yellow chest and black wings flecked with white. I marveled at what looked like unabashed playfulness while bathing.  The scene sparked a memory I have from more than twenty years ago.

Late one afternoon, while writing at my desk, I heard my daughter’s voice.

“Mommy, mommy” she called to me plaintively.  Poking my head out my office door I saw her holding a bird wrapped in a kitchen towel.

“What do you have there?” I asked.

“He hit the window hard mommy! There are feathers on the glass.  I was watching television when I heard him and I ran outside to look for him.”

“It’s a Townsend Warbler” I said, observing the silent blinking bundle she cradled in her arms.”

“Will he live?” she asked.

“I don’t know.  He is badly stunned.  Keep him warm and talk to him.” 

Reaching for a book with her free hand she went outside and walked toward the pasture to sit in a warm sunny spot on the stile.  An hour later, just as I went out to check on them I saw the bird topple from her lap and rise into the air, swoop low across the meadow and land teetering on the edge of a potted plant before he took off in full flight. My daughter heard me approach behind her.  Perhaps I startled the little bird.

“Mommy, he flew!  Did you see him?  He flew!”

“Yes darling.  I saw him. High-O-Silver.  The Lone Ranger flies again."