Rhodes, the inquisitive, scholarly roadrunner, saw me from afar and hurried toward the bench I sat on. I swear he recognized me, yet he stopped for a moment, as if suddenly unsure. I called; he came closer. He likes to hear the recorder play. Alas, I was without my soprano; instead, I spoke in a soft, low alto. I wanted him near, now more than ever, and Rhodes is not the only one who is clever. In truth, I think he likes the human voice; thus, he approached showing almost no fear, though it had been more than a third of a year.
In the past, while playing a tune, he has charged and strutted and stood quite near. This afternoon, a mere three feet away, he delighted me with an amazing display. Three times he circled ’round me, the bench, the tree, sometimes topping to peck food from the mulched topsoil. Several times he would look at me a good while…first with his left eye, then he’d hop around to look with his right, and hop back again to observe me with his left, taking my full measure. I swear it seemed he recognized me.
We danced our bird and human trance…… I whispered; he posed, he preened, he took an observant stance. Several times he clattered his beak as if to speak. I nodded and cooed; we entered a magical acceptance. He approached within a breath of my outstretched hand; had I seed, I have no doubt he would have eaten my offering. I promised to return with food and song. I thanked him for staying so unusually long.
Thoreau said, “I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment….and I felt I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.” …my feelings exactly.
In the photo to the left, Rhodes raises his crown. On the right, Rhodes’ feathers form a heart on his back.