If birds ever ran for office, the little Golden-crowned Sparrow who lives on the corner of Wahkiakum Lane and the Loop Trail would no doubt be president. He is the Bill Clinton of birds: Whether you agree with his political positions (or whether you even know what those positions are!), you have to admit he is utterly charming.
Every day, you can find this little guy foraging along the verge of the trails. When he sees you, he stops what he’s doing, cocks his head at you, and gives a little encouraging nod, as though he wants to know everything on your mind. Somehow he makes you believe that you are the most important person in the world to him, and he will engage with you for as long as you want. It is the essence of charm.
I’ve known this sparrow for months now. He first arrived as a juvenile last fall, his head all stripey, his personality already distinct. Gradually over the past few weeks, I have watched him become an adult. He has lost his head stripes completely now. They have been replaced by a beautiful golden crown, fringed with black and white. Last week, I found him perched on the woven nest some artist has placed on the corner of the trail. A yearning came over me to hear him sing. Golden-crowned sparrows don’t usually sing down here. This is only their winter home. They reserve their singing for Alaska, where they breed. I know our little politician will be leaving for the north soon, and I wanted to hear him before he goes.
“Sing,” I begged, not expecting anything except his usual friendly but quiet looks.
He hesitated a moment, shifting from one little clawed foot to the other. Then he threw back his head. The short feathers along his throat began to quiver, and he burst into song. The piercingly sweet notes floated up over the trail and hung in the still air, almost visible, almost palpable. Like the most orator I ever heard, he swept me along with his passion, but in song not in words. An oratorio of pure beauty.