There is an entire city of birds which live in a nondescript tree over the line of my property. Actually, it’s my neighbors tree but it sits right on the edge so I can see it easily from my side porch.

I say nondescript because it looks questionable most of the year, with its incredibly long, arm branches spotted with bunches of small leaves, giving the appearance of someone with short, thick curly hair which thins at the edges and grows wild in every direction.

See?  Not remarkable at all, at least in its looks.  But when you sit with the tree, as I have been for the past few days, you realize it is the town center for birds. There are holes the size of baseballs in her branches, home to bluebird mothers and her babes and the view from the top, I imagine, is grandeur for she is taller than any other tree on the block. At once there are three Ravens in her tower and then they are replaced by a singing robin and then three goldfinches dart among her leaves as mourning doves coo midway.The comings and goings between this tree and the others in our yards – the large Maples and the others which are annoyingly prolific, sprouting new shoots every week ALL over my backyard – is like the arrival gate at an airport, constant movement and chatter, a myriad of different bird languages being spoken and sung.

(On a sidenote, as I write this a small chipmunk keeps eyeing me. He didn’t see me earlier and sauntered by, his cheeks bulging with goodies, and deposited them in his nest under my front porch. He then moved to make his way back to his collection site, having to pass by me again and finally noticed me. He sat right under my feet, his tiny black eyes surveying, knowing something was there but not sure of its intent – enemy or friend? When I finally moved, she scurried away and has been watching me from the shadows nearby.  I know I am being watched and I love it.)

I admire birds – their ability to fly, the vibrant colors embedded within each feather, and their innate ability to sing beautifully – and keep a running list of all we have seen at our front birdfeeders but I have never observed them in their home over time.  Until now.

My neighbor said he was thinking of cutting down the tree and I whole-heartedly told him, “No!” now that I have discovered its importance to the local bird community. This tree, ugly or not, is their home, their center.  I am sure they would all survive, finding another tree to inhabit but I’m not sure I would.

I would miss seeing the bluebird momma daily (she even landed on my hammock the other day while I was on it, a surreal moment for sure as the two of us eyed each other),

I would miss the cacophony of bird talk and I would miss the constant back and forth between eating and gathering food and the collecting of precious materials to make nests. I feel privileged to be allowed to watch.  My neighbor smiled, his wife agreeing with me.  The tree will stay.  For now anyway.