A NEW BEAK IN TOWN – Marilyn Armstrong


I saw him at the feeder on Monday. “That’s a new kid,” I announced, but of course I didn’t get a picture because I wasn’t holding the camera. Just watching the birdies flutter about.

This morning, I heard the call. The wild call of the Carolina Wren. He has the loudest call of any bird of that size, which is smaller than a Robin, but bigger than a Finch.

You can’t miss the call. You can hear it through closed windows and doors. This time, I heard it in the living room … and the sound was coming from the backyard. I went back there, missed him, but while I was standing there with my camera in my hand, staring at the empty feeder, who should land but the aforementioned and previously heard, Carolina Wren.

The Carolina Wren and his little yellow Goldfinch pal

As I was reading up on this little wren, there was a lot of commentary on how these migratory birds have largely stopped migrating. Partly, because of climate change and alterations to their environment, but even more because of …


Squared. with pointed beak — Carolina Wren

People with feeders have dramatically changed the migration of birds. Whereas they used to fly to the tropics, many just fly down to like … Maryland or New Jersey … and now, many are not bothering to migrate at all.

I read an exchange between someone in South Carolina bemoaning her lack of Carolina Wrens and was answered by someone in Michigan who said, “Well, we just got a foot of snow and they are happily eating at my feeder on the porch!”

The last of the square pictures. Some of the shots just did NOT want to be square, not without losing a piece of wing or tail …

We feeder owners are supposed to report seeing birds showing up where they should not be … and especially if they seem to be suffering from an ailment.


It doesn’t take much to feel like a visitor from a foreign planet. Humans are good at making anyone even a little bit different feel like an alien. So I look at myself and realize I’m an anachronism. A stranger in a place that was once my home.

My body is a great place to start. It is rebuilt, an imitation of a human body. Fake breasts with no nipples. Replacement parts all over the place. Missing internal organs. No belly button.

Yet nothing makes me feel more out of time and place than reading posts on Facebook. The inability of average people to use grammar, to write in full sentences, to understand that “loose” and “lose” aren’t the same word. This leaves me feeling as if I have been inter-dimensionally transported to “The Planet Without Grammar.” Forget typos. I get that. We all make mistakes and usually know it. How often I have wished I could go back and correct them.

No, I’m talking about all the millions of people who don’t even know they are doing something wrong because they never knew their own language in the first place.

Then there’s music. I sound like every member of every older generation throughout history, but this didn’t start when I became a senior. It started when I was a music student and had to listen to 12-tone music. That was music?  It sounds like Tom cats locked in a trash can. Howling, banging, shrieks, crashing, thumping. No rhythm. No melody. Just noise.

I can get into a rhythm without melody. I can enjoy a  melody without rhythm. When you remove both?

What, exactly, makes it music? Please, someone, explain.

Where do noise and music part company? My inability as a young music student to grasp what it was about these sounds that made them admirable as music signaled a lifetime of “not getting it.” Whatever “it” has been.

There are so many things I don’t get. Politics. Ignorance. Movies without scripts. Books without plots. Published authors without talent. Voluntary illiteracy. An international lack of compassion for the poor and needy. Environmental destruction for short-term goals which will have permanent and devastating planet-wide repercussions. Genocide.

And the old standby, stupidity.

When I said I’m an anachronism, I wasn’t kidding. I am. Daily I grow worse.

LINED UP AND READY TO GO! – Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge:
Getting Your Ducks in a Row

Around here, geese and ducks and often swans have a strong tendency to line up. If you’re using a long lens, this can be a problem. If there are a lot of geese or ducks or swans, you can’t get them all!

Geese lined up n a green river

Cygnets lined up

Mom and cygnets

Ducks lined up and human legs in a line – Boston Commons

The Christmas parade, getting organized