The vast darkness appeared in the eastern sky in early afternoon. The weather people had been forecasting for days the hurricane Isaias, and we watched for its outer bands of rain; in fact, we even eagerly wished for the much-needed rain. So this week when the darkness arrived, my wife and I gathered on the screened porch to watch its arrival. We were not disappointed, and the rain brought relief to the heat and humidity and dry plants. We listened to the rain hitting leaves and watched the worst of the storm move south around us.
When calm returned to our area, I continued to sit on the porch to watch our small, back garden. All matter of animals came out after the rain, and I enjoyed the presence of cardinals, titmice, nuthatches, Carolina wrens, brown thrashers, and more. The cooled air gave comfort to the watching of all the activity. One of the dogwood trees in the garden has several dead branches that we keep because they provide food for the smaller birds like the chickadees. It was on one of those branches that I noticed a small nodule, and I wondered what it could be. I kept examining it and soon realized that it was a small, resting bird. Because it was such a minuscule shape against the still dusty sky, I could not identify it, but I did notice a sharp beak and body not larger than my thumb. I concluded it to be a young brown-headed nuthatch. I watched. It rested.
Out time together lasted for several minutes, and I enjoyed the odd experience of seeing a bird so still. Birds in our garden, like in all places, are always on the move, but at a few times I had seen them resting. I have watched doves lay on the ground with wings spread, their way of cooling off. Brown thrashers have rested on the fence rail with their beaks open to gain some relief from the heat. I had seen birds resting on a limb or fence rail between splashes of flight. But seldom had I seen a bird at rest this long. Right there, the young nuthatch resting on the dead limb of our dogwood tree, until the well-rested hummingbird zoomed away.
I had been wrong about the bird’s identity, but that was okay because the storm moved on, the lower temperature it brought to our garden gave welcome relief, and I had received a small gift. That was enough I realized as I went into the house for supper.