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  • New York, NY

The "loss" of a Visiting Bird: Borrowed Time

In the early 1990's when I was studying photography at Hunter College I met Jennifer Mahoney and her boyfriend Felix. They can be seen in the first picture accompanying this HT posting.

The photo was taken (and subsequently printed) by yours truly at the request of Jennifer, who wanted a picture of herself with her true love.*

Unfortunately Jennifer never got to see the picture I took, because she died soon after our photo-shoot as the result of undergoing a tragic accident while Christmas shopping with Felix, who never saw the picture either, because he is blind.

In any event, at Jennifer's funeral I gave her mother a copy of the picture I had printed for Jennifer, and this was when Mrs.Mahoney told me that because her daughter had Spina Bifida, she always knew she was on "borrowed time" and hence she enjoyed the time she had with her, but she also let Jennifer live her life to the fullest.

Mrs. Mahoney's profound statement has stayed with me all these years, but I especially thought of it during Emily's (my visiting Baltimore oriole) stay in my garden.
As a number of TLLG's readers know, Emily arrived in my urban (NYC) garden on November 16th 2013.**

Her presence in mid November was both a blessing as well as disconcerting. I had never seen a Baltimore oriole before, and it was a blessing to be in the presence of such a beautiful bird on a daily basis, but it was disconcerting too, because with each passing day I knew it might be the last time I'd see her, for I had learned the following info re Baltimore orioles:

"Baltimore Orioles are mostly in the tropics, though a few individuals linger, even in the northern states and provinces. No one knows why some individuals are stragglers every year--most of these are seen in November and December, so ornithologists believe most of them end up dying as winter gets more severe."

Emily was here on nearly a daily basis, every morning, every afternoon and every evening (with the exception of one day), from November 16th 2013 (as seen in picture two of this entry) through the morning of December 26 2013 (as seen in picture three of this entry).

During her time here NYC underwent roller coaster temperatures, ranging from the mid-seventies to below zero and coupled with erratic temperatures, rain and snow fell. But Emily survived it all and seemed to be comfortable, as you might surmise from pictures documenting her visitation.

BTW, the photos in place-holders four through fifteen feature her from the time period of November 16th through November 20th, but on November 21st, Emily got a break from being photographed as I went on a field trip (a scene from that mini holiday can be seen in place-holder sixteen).

The images in place-holders seventeen through nineteen feature her visits in the couple of days following my field trip (11-21-13) and, as you can see (especially in the picture in place-holder seventeen), Emily endured the rain, but I did not see her on 11-25-13, another rainy day.

However, the days following that rain siege (which were also the days leading up to Thanksgiving) were filled with Emily enjoying butter buds from the thistle feeder (pictures in place-holders 20-22).

Emily's twelfth day in NYC was Thanksgiving and hence the day of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, whose route is close to where I live, and I did not get any photo-ops of her on that day, but I'm told that she was pleased to see yellow birds represented; even if it was in the form of Woodstock (as seen in place-holder twenty-three).

The images seen in place-holders twenty-four through thirty-three feature Emily continuing to enjoy the time she spent in my garden and they feature her antics in the days that followed Thanksgiving up until December 11th 2013 when Petite Steph decorated my garden for the Christmas holidays.***

Steph put up a big tree, but in the days that followed, Emily seemed to especially appreciate the other decor Steph added such as the table-top tree as well as the garland on the pole that holds my bird feeders. This is evidenced in the pictures within place-holders thirty-four through forty-four. All of these images were taken between the time Christmas decor was put into my garden (December 11th 2013) up until Christmas Day.

I was especially thrilled to be in her company on Christmas Day and grateful that she was able to continue to drink from my bird bath, nibble on foliage, avail herself of food from different feeders, and to be comfortable in my garden, as you can surmise she was from the images featured in this post, including the aforementioned "scenes" from Christmas found in place-holders forty-five through forty-seven.

But, alas, the day after Christmas, Boxing Day, was the last time I saw Emily. The photo-ops I got of her on that day can be seen in place-holders forty-eight through fifty-one.

The first two (48 and 49) of the aforementioned "last day" photo-ops of Emily are very similar to the picture I featured in place-holder three of this entry. In all three she seems to be pondering and in deep thought, then she grabbed a bite to eat from her favorite place (50 and 51) and I have not seen her since.

It has been two weeks, and I hope that wherever she has gone that she is safe and warm for I was not able to give her heat! At the advice of one of my Facebook readers (Amanda R) who is an extraordinary birder and a compassionate soul, I had thought of getting a propane heater (that she recommended) to ensure that Emily would survive the cold, but alas I did not procure a heater for a number of reasons: I couldn't afford it, and I was afraid it would blow over in the wind and start a fire, Propane is hard to find in NYC and since I am legally blind it is not advisable for me to work with that (or any) chemical.

Maybe Emily sensed that prolonged weather was coming and got out of NYC before our blizzards and subsequent polar vortex**** set in.

Or, maybe, Emily was tired of an aggressive pigeon taking over "her" feeder as seen in pictures fifty-two through fifty-four.

Whatever the case may be re Emily's fate, I am trying to hang on to Dr. Seuss's philosophy which is: “Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened” as well as to Mrs. Mahoney's thoughts on "borrowed time."

Still, I miss Emily, and I wonder, dear reader, how you cope with the loss of a feathered friend who has visited your garden?

The other way I am dealing it is to be thankful for the sweet visitors who have and continue to come to my garden, and who can be seen in photo-ops fifty-five through sixty-one.

AND with that thought I conclude my homage to Emily but not without letting HT readers Sheri Chejlyk @ as well as Lynne @ know that I apologize for any inconvenience they may have had. Both of them "liked" this post which was in was in a "scheduled" format on HT but it had yet been posted (not sure how that happened), then the entry was accidentally deleted!

But here it is, and I hope that they and other HT readers enjoy it.


*More INFO on Jennifer Mahoney @
**More INFO on Emily's arrival @
***More INFO on Petit's Steph's garden decor @ AS WELL AS @
****More INFO on polar vortex @
The "story" behind this picture, "Jennifer and Felix" was featured within TLLG's Blogger Pages @
This picture of Emily was taken on Day One of her arrival and posted here on HT with a question @
This picture of Emiy in a pensive state was taken the last time I saw her in m garen on 12-26-13. It was featured in an album with a story on TLLG's FB Page @
Emily's Day 1 (View 1). At a Thistle Feeder (which contained Butter Buds). BEFORE her arrival, this feeder was discussed @
Emily's Day 1 (View 2). At a Thistle Feeder (which contained Butter Buds). BEFORE her arrival, this feeder was discussed @
Emily's Day 2 (View 1). At a Thistle Feeder (which contained Butter Buds). BEFORE her arrival, this feeder was discussed @
Emily's Day 2 (View 2). At a Thistle Feeder (which contained Butter Buds). BEFORE her arrival, this feeder was discussed @
Emily's Day 3 (View 1). At a Thistle Feeder (which contained Butter Buds). BEFORE her arrival, this feeder was discussed @
Emily's Day 3 (View 2). Checking out another feeder! This image (with a story) within TLLG's Blogger Pages @
Emily's Day 4 (View 1). Checking out a suet log!
Emily's Day 4 (View 2). Em returns to Thistle Feeder! BEFORE her arrival, this feeder was discussed @
Emily's Day 4 (View 3). Discovers Bird Bath!
Emily's Day 5 (View One.) Doing some stretches at a Thistle Feeder, a feeder featured @ (prior to her arrival).
Emily's Day 5. (View Two.) Doing some "FLORA-ING" (when birds observe what grows in a garden just as birders observe them when they are BIRDING).
Emily Day 5 (View Three). Munching whilst atop a Thistle Feeder, a feeder featured @ (prior to her arrival).

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


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  • Douglas Hunt
    on Jan 10, 2014

    All we can do is savor the time we have, right? I'm glad you had so many happy moments with Emily.

  • Erl325751
    on Apr 11, 2014

    in this place look like heaven,,i want to lay down and sleep wishing i will not wake up i want to remember what I have seen and what it feels like,,,so i will close my eyes and never to open again.

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