Watching Bird TV

watching bird tv: Flicker, Courtesy Pixabay
Flicker, Courtesy Pixabay

Two American Robins and a Northern Flicker Drinking from a Bird Bath Copyright © 2012 Linda Kervin Two American Robins and a
Northern Flicker Drinking from a Bird Bath
Copyright © 2012 Linda Kervin

bird tv: Chickadee Courtesy edbo23, photographer and Pixabay Chickadee
Courtesy edbo23, photographer and Pixabay

There are some days that I just don’t have it in me to get outside. Maybe it’s the winter blues; maybe it’s exhaustion from a full day’s work. Either way, there are days where all I want to do is sit in the shelter of my home next to the heat ducts, or under the shade of a porch, and just exhale for hours. Sometimes, getting into the thick or exploring one of the many unmapped nooks of Utah’s majesty just isn’t happening.

I used to feel bad about this. I have but one life, one short blip of time upon this earth, I should be making use of every second. Whether it’s laboring on an overdue chore, or out testing my grit in harmony with Utah’s character, I need to be doing or I am dying; wasting the one life I am given.

It took me some good time to not overcome this mentality, but see my struggle with new eyes: to wash them and see the world fresh. My ablution began by asking a simple question: how can I love the still wild land that has provided for my family, my nation, my species for millennia, even when I don’t have it in me to go out and commune with it as I know I should daily?

The answer for me was to find a way to appreciate and give in such a way that allows me great joy and relaxation, yet fulfills that higher narrative which only the world beyond human influence can provide. My answer was watching birds at my small backyard bird feeder.

While it may not sound as exciting as fording a river while carrying my dog, or submitting a mountain that still holds on to deep winter snows (again with my dog), it gives me a chance to still learn about the cut of my jib, to see what character I’m made of, and to see my place in the world, in creation, and in life.

I test my grit upon the stillness of my mind when cheerful chickadees begin to see me as a part of the scenery and perch ever closer and closer to the branches above me, or my honest acceptance when rackets of starlings come to steal the suet left out in hope of a Stellar’s jay or lost mountain bluebird, or my reflection on where my body will one day go as scraps from my last hunt are eaten by the local neighborhood magpie clan.

This is an activity I have dubbed Bird TV for those who will often find my attention turn suddenly from conversation with them to quickly confirming the flicker drumming on the feeder’s home tree marking its stake. Through the lessons of my wild neighbors and in my observation of them, I can still hold true to myself in seeking to commune with the real world daily. By watching Bird TV, I can learn the calls of different species, notice when they change with the food supply or weather, and reflect upon my place within this world and within this life, no narration but the sounds of the real world, alive and vibrant in front of me.

So when you don’t have the energy or time to be upon the land from which has given life to your family, our nation, and all species, consider setting out sunflower seeds, nuts, raw meat, or even jams for the birds. Set them someplace you can catch yourself noticing who’s visiting out of the corner of your eye through a window at any moment, and if another human asks as to why you’re being distracted by a what’s outside and not by the usual glowing rectangle, just let them know that it’s Bird TV. Invite them to watch too, and catch them up on what’s been going on in the world. Hopefully then they’ll learn to tune in too.

I’m Patrick Kelly and I’m Wild About Utah.

Images: Image Courtesy & Copyright Patrick Kelly, Photographer, all rights reserved
Audio: Contains audio Courtesy & Copyright Kevin Colver
Text:    Patrick Kelly, Director of Education, Stokes Nature Center,
Included Links: Lyle Bingham, Webmaster,

Additional Reading

Project Feederwatch, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University,

Axelson, Gustave, 30 Years of Project FeederWatch Yield New Insights About Backyard Birds, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, January 11, 2017,

Short Works

Avenue Road Path Trees, Courtesy Pixabay,  Peggychoucair, Contributor
Avenue Road Path Trees
Courtesy Pixabay, Peggychoucair, Contributor
Now with a baby and persistent lacks and gaps in sleep, longer-form writing is gone. Lost. Kaput. The big thinking bits of the brain where creativity lies are in perpetual short-circuit from having to deal with so much else, that the only way I can write and get enough material is in the shorter form. I wonder to myself if this is how George Saunders or Rumi started. I reflect, maybe, but I’m also no George Saunders or Rumi. Probably for the best.

Regardless, I rarely find myself with the time I need to write in general. My time has been otherwise accounted for by care. That’s not a bad thing, but I don’t have the same allocation of space. Now, there are just the spaces in between care, where normally chores are done in the style of feudal ninjitsu: as fast and quiet as possible so as to not wake the sleeping. Sometimes though, there can be spaces in the spaces, where a nap goes longer than usual, and I can sit with presence, and write a few words on why, in the midst of it all, I’m tired, but still Wild About Utah.


Summer’s heat is now just warmth as the sun sets lower in the autumn sky. I listen to the last rumbles of lawnmowers and leaf blowers and reflect upon the high hot season gone by. I think about the adventures, the growth, the newness, and the labor. I think back, too, on what has passed, and whom — family, friends, mentors, and confidants. Loss never gets easier; it gets harder. Each loss is another hole in our being, which lets in the cold, and so that just as summer’s light wanes, memories fade and darkness seems inevitable as it seeps through the gaps. The challenge that is always easier said than done, though, is to take that hole and make it a window in our souls; to try to look out those new windows upon new vistas; to see that they also let in the light, even of just the stars when that darkness falls. And then it is still work to know that we can shine through them a beacon of the hearth which requires stoking. Light is given then to those who gave. It sounds easier than it is, because healing is hard, but without hope through work, it will never be. And work we do. All wounds heal soon enough, but we save the scars to remember that life is tough. And so are we.

Let the leaves lie.

When worlds collide, let the leaves lie.

Ask what is right, and do not bide

Your time making arguments for “clean” or “pure”

For trees’ ears are full of sap and so are yours.

Use your better senses, and let the leaves lie.

Season of rest

I can’t wait to slow down,

take a breath,

and warm my bones with tea by the fire.

Morning commute

Crimson canyons and golden hills

Blanket my eyes in awe

Termination snowcapped bliss

Premonate the frigid maw


Waning sunlit days

Fowl all fleeing imminent


I’m Patrick Kelly, and I’m Wild About Utah

Images: Courtesy Pixabay, Peggychoucair, Contributor
Audio: Courtesy & © Anderson, Howe, and Wakeman
Text:    Patrick Kelly, Stokes Nature Center,

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Posts by Patrick Kelly

Stokes Nature Center,

Vignettes of a Utah Summer

Vignettes of a Utah SummerSun Backlit White Dandelion Courtesy Pixabay, Adina Voicu, Contributor
Courtesy Pixabay, Adina Voicu, Contributor
What you’re about to hear
Is the opinion of someone who really does care
I oscillate between an optimist
And a pessimist who doesn’t want his dreams to come true
Maybe you’re like me
But hopefully you’re like you

Now I may and often do complain, critique, and crack
But it’s because I want us all to do better
Leaders, followers, neighbors, you, and me
Better nice
Better good

However, with these benevolent intentions
I do freely admit to have a hidden top-secret cryptic agenda:
My hope that we don’t stop at better
But instead be our best
Best nicer
Best gooder

Impossible? No.
Improbable? We’ll see.

I have hope.

Adaptive Palate
The tomatoes ripen quicker
The peach leaves scorch deeper
The neighbor’s grass drinks more
And seeing all this it’s hard not to as well

Hot hot
Too hot
To hot

Change isn’t a four-letter word
It’s at least five
Six even depending on how you spell it
Three if you know geometry
Unless you’re thinking about cash

I can’t hear through the firecrackers
The crickets,
the owls,
My thoughts,
the baby’s breathing

The dogs hide from the booms
The screaming town children joust with screaming Roman candles
Squires ready to blindly defend their k/nights

My wife and I, but mostly my wife
Honestly exclusively my wife
Had our first child in June
A daughter
Born this spring
Living through this summer
Her first

She’s seen the hottest days since records began
And not just her records
All of them
The hottest weeks
The hottest June
The hottest July
But she doesn’t complain about it necessarily

I do though
My wife does
The dogs do
Our friends do
Not all of our neighbors do
But a lot of them
OK maybe not a lot of them
But at least the ones we talk to
Some of those ones do
The rest are ready for the end
And engorge their lawns in the sun accordingly

While baby sleeps
While baby dreams
While baby has tummy time
While baby gets strong
While baby eats and eats and poops and eats
While baby grows
While baby slowly learns about the world she lives in

Cache Valley Desert
Personally, I can’t wait
Until Cache Valley is a desert
I want those early mornings just outside my door
Those cool desert mornings
When the snakes are in their dens
And the birds are working their plains
I’m ready for crepuscular adventures
For the end of the era of turf
And for the beginning of the age of roadrunners
Meep meep!

Five whole feet
But where are all the pelicans

Four whole feet
But why is there still dust

Three whole feet
But shouldn’t it be more

Two whole feet
But where did it all go

One whole feet
But ten more are needed

But ten whole feet
Isn’t that impossible

It is with that attitude
So let’s change it
Change us
And work

I’m Patrick Kelly and I’m Wild About Utah


Images: Courtesy Pixabay, Adina Voicu, Contributor
Audio: Courtesy & © J. Chase, K.W. Baldwin and Anderson, Howe, Wakeman
Text:    Patrick Kelly, Stokes Nature Center,

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Posts by Patrick Kelly

Stokes Nature Center,

Spring Dandelion Power

Dandelions, Courtesy & Copyright Patrick Kelly
Morning for the spring dandelion is gentle and calm
The world is no longer a struggle but instead a serendipitous balm
Your yellow buds open upon you, sneaking between others some pink, some white
More colors even still in the waxing new day’s light
 Spring Dandelion Power
There is no better time for the dandelion than when spring has sprung
The leaves are fresh green and so is the fresh dung
Birds do sing high up in the stretching yawning trees
Staking their turf, edges, and new nesting eaves
Spring when sprung well sizzles with waking signs
Of kin abloom drawn with straight growing lines
One end towards sun, the other down towards the deep
Until some roots build taps, and others go on the creep
The days are now joyous choruses of neighbor raucous crocuses
Avian acrobats whirling spinning diving like ferocious locusts
Shades of toothed green batten down the laden earth
Soaking and drinking and filling to fullest milky girth
And as the sun sets on each new spring day
I am reminded of the new presence by the heat that stays
Radiating, glowing, even after the moon has shown
Continuing the journey of growth and what has grown
It is amazing to think that each year the world mends
Its browns in all hues to life in all bends
From sails to seeds to germ and blossom
Dandelion life is both humble and awesome
So this spring when sprung look out your window or door
Remember that life gives always life more and more
If in doubt, don’t wait: be like the dandelion flower
Thriving in cracks and interrupting silly lawns with unrelenting blissful dandelion power
I’m Patrick Kelly, and I’m Wild About Utah

Images: Courtesy & © Patrick Kelly
Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver
Text:    Patrick Kelly, Director of Education, Stokes Nature Center,
Included Links: Patrick Kelly & Lyle Bingham, Webmaster,

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Posts by Patrick Kelly

Stokes Nature Center,

Brain McCann, Roslynn, Dandelion, Friend or Foe?, Wild About Utah, Apr 4, 2016,

Greene, Jack, Pioneer Day Edible Native Plants 2016, Wild About Utah, Jul 18, 2016,