Mi Papá and I loved birds.
We cared for a little baby bird for a little while, spending hours gently tossing it back and forth to teach it to fly. Twitty would be let out when I left for school and kept inside at night. Twitty would soar and land on my hand when I’d call him when I got home from school. It was sudden when Twitty stopped answering my calls.
Scarlet Rumpled Tanager zoomed in upon from the rental house patio.
Papa told me that Twitty found its parents and told him goodbye from the big oak tree in our yard. I only have Papás story. Soon after, Papa seemed to forget what he told me…and that part of the Twitty´s story was lost to Alzheimer’s.
When Twitty disappeared, mi Papa and I decided to feed the birds daily. Maybe the bird would return as an adult? I was young enough that I have no sense of time between Twitty´s disappearance and the appearance of Pinta Roja…but a red winged blackbird began visiting our yard.
We named this bird Pinta Roja, simply because of the red splash on his wings. Pinta Roja was the only bird who would land within a few feet of us. He would land on the power wire that was right outside our kitchen and Florida room. Pinta Roja would sing until we showed up with bread, just for him. Mi Mama was even trained by Pinta Roja! Mama would laugh when Pinta Roja appeared and feed him when Papa or I weren’t home. She was exasperated that we were trained by a bird, but enjoyed it, too. He was the only red winged blackbird that ever visited.
Again, I have no sense of time, Pinta Roja stopped visiting after a while. We kept feeding the birds until our habit dwindled and Alzheimer’s got worse.
When I hear red winged blackbirds calling…I’m eight years old again, running out to greet my best friend Pinta Roja with bread in hand, and enjoying each other’s company for a few minutes.
Costa Rica has no red winged blackbirds, but there are scarlet rumped tanager sargentos. Their calls and markings are different, but I get the same spark of joy when I see red feathers against black feathers. It’s like Papa sent messengers to tell me he’s ok, and life is good.
Hummingbird at feeder that’s at the edge of back patio of rental house.
To see one of the few drawings Papa did for me at the time, please visit or click on this sentence.
You can say art runs in the family!
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