Toad in the Hole

October 23, 2005


We had another California towhee in the house the other day, as I was computertating and Joe was making a pear pie. This one I scared when I walked out of the office, and it flew about the dining room and parlor without finding a way out, and then into the guest room/library/closet, and then into the bathroom, where it perched on the top of the open door. It bounced around that room a dew times, trying perches on the shower-curtain rod, the little shelflike thing on the frame of the other door -- knocking one of the collection of old silver baby cups askew -- back to the open door.

The whole time, it was oddly calm for a panicked bird. It never flew into a closed window (well, we haven't washed them in ages, so they're not invisible) or ceiling; it never said anything but that little "Tink!" they use as a contact call. It cocked its head and kept an eye on me and Joe, but didn't fly every time it saw us. And it kept that persistent "Tink!" up at regular intervals. Joe opened all the windows and doors to give it a chance to exit, but it stayed in the bathroom, looking down at us.

Then its mate (I can safely assume this; they stay together all winter, as far as I can tell, and are residents here) called from the plum tree outside the bathroom window, "Tink!" Our visitor turned its head and tinked again. "Tink!" from outside. Same rhythm, pitch, pace. Clearly, our bird oriented itself to the call.

I opened the bathroom window all the way, and took my shower hat off its hook in the windowframe. The towhee, a regular exchange of tinks going on all the while, flew to the curtain rod over the window, ducked to peer out the open side, and flew out to its calling mate. As far as I can tell, they went on with their daily routine.

It's funny how I liked the house when it had that bird inside, flying about.

Posted at October 23, 2005 07:37 PM


Yes, it transforms the house, particularly if the bird (towhee, sparrow, canyon wren) is not wigged out.

Cardinals chip to each other all the time too; it's something I missed when I moved to California in 96.

Ron, they've irrigated the field in front of our house for alfalfa. It's almost perfect for mountain plover. I'll keep an eye out for you. (If we get them, that will be far and away the best yard bird on our list EVER.)

Posted by: Pica at October 24, 2005 03:06 PM

Oh, my. Yes, let us know -- if you comment anywhere here, I get an automatic e-mail, or there's always If we see mountain plovers in your front yard, we'll buy you lunch. Heck, even if we don't.

I think our best yard bird is while pelican, but we count airspace too.

The big Long's drugstore up at Broadway and 51st/Pleasant Hill Rd. has an English sparrow colony that's moved a couple of members indoors. They live on ceiling fixtures in the garden department.

Posted by: Ron at October 24, 2005 04:20 PM

It sounds like you live in Oakland, yes? I used to live behind the Grandlake Theater, and we had all sorts of wildlife--possums, raccoons, birds. I miss that, although I did see a raccoon walking through my Tenderloin backyard recently. Which was a little weird...

I love the detail of this post. I actually came over beacuse I'd enjoyed the line "crash some punctuation together" in a comment on Twisty's blog; now I see you're a writer and I get it. Thanks for the smile.

Posted by: Indri at October 28, 2005 09:28 AM

Hi, Indri, and welcome!

Close; I'm in Berkeley/ I do know some folks over by the Grand Lake who said they've had deer in the yard, if you don't mind. (They minded, but just a little; they have an apple tree.) I'm not shocked at raccoons in the Tenderloin, really. They travel via the storm sewers, or so I'm told.

I like your nym, being a fan of all things Malagasy. So far, anyway; I haven't tried much of the food.

Posted by: Ron at October 29, 2005 01:06 AM