The Visitor

by Erin Brady Worsham on Wed, 2014-06-11 08:57

We are birders in our house. I don't mean to brag, but I am a very good birdwatcher, for the simple reason that I don't move. The birds don't quite know what to make of me. I once had a Carolina wren land two feet from me and look into my eyes. Believe me, you haven't lived until a Carolina wren looks into your very soul! The point is that when you sit in stillness and observe the nature around you, you may be blessed to see some amazing stories unfold, like the following story about a special visitor we had last month ...

Part one

It’s not every day you have a suave Continental come to dinner at your house, let alone in your backyard, but that is what happened on April 30. Even though it was chilly that day, my husband, Curry, took me outside. (It was hard to stay inside when the garden was coming along so beautifully.) He went back inside to get more of my equipment, and I glanced across the yard at one of our four birdfeeders. I was stunned at what I saw! Even without my glasses, I knew I had never seen the black, white and red bird feeding there in person. Surprisingly, Curry also happened to look at the feeder when he came out and said, “What the heck is that bird? Is it a woodpecker?” Just then the bird flew into the next yard and we could tell by its steady, “sober” flight that it was not a woodpecker! “I know I’ve seen that bird in a book,” I said. Then it suddenly came to me. “Is it a grosbeak?” My husband flipped through the bird book and there he was, the beautiful rose-breasted grosbeak. We were definitely not in his range, so we figured he was on his way home from Mexico and had probably gotten waylaid by the storms. It was almost dark. I hoped he would spend the night nearby and visit the feeder again in the morning ...

Part two

I keep pretty crazy hours, sleeping during the day and staying up all night. I worked through the night on the computer like I always do. In the morning, I heard the definite sound of a bird hitting the sunroom window. One of our three cats, Mouse, heard it, too, and ran to the glass door to look out. It’s not unusual for birds to hit the window and they are usually not hurt, so I gave it little thought when Mouse slipped outside through the dog door. A few minutes later, he returned with a bird, its head inside his mouth screaming bloody murder and its wings outstretched. I called Curry. If he acted immediately, this bird might be saved. Then we realized in horror it was our beautiful rose-breasted grosbeak! He managed to get the bird away from Mouse and get him out of the kitchen. Thank God, the bird did not appear to be injured. Curry gave me a good, long look at our little friend before taking him outside. Black, beady eyes looked into mine and I marveled at God’s creation. I hoped he would be able to go on his way and wouldn’t think any the less of Nashville, Tenn., for this unfortunate lapse in Mouse’s manners …

Part three

That evening when we went outside for our garden time, we were very surprised when our little friend joined the usual suspects at the feeders. Maybe he needed time to get over the shock or maybe he was lost, or could it be he just loved our sunflower seeds? Whatever the reason, he was a most welcome addition to our community of cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, house finches, titmice, sparrows and others. They seemed to accept him and he was not at all intimidated by them, maybe because of his gross (German for BIG) beak. For the next four days we saw him morning and evening at the feeders and peace reigned in the backyard …

The kicker

We were about to go back inside on the morning of the fifth day, when, out of the blue, TWO male rose-breasted grosbeaks flew into the branches above the feeders. We suddenly realized that the bird Mouse had caught and the bird we had been seeing on the feeders were two different birds, the first much less mature (less red) than the second. For all we know, that little fella was hurt by Mouse and his friend or father was bringing him food from the feeder. Isn’t that a trip?! They were gone the next day, and we never saw them again. We may never see another rose-breasted grosbeak in our lives. It was a privileged meeting, a fleeting crossing of paths, and we would never forget their exotic beauty …


Mouse, Mouse, Mouse, what are we going to do with you?! You have a bell, and you’re still catching birds. I’m sorry, but I’m afraid you’ve left us no option … It’s the COW BELL for you, Bucko!

About the Author

Nashville artist and writer Erin Brady Worsham was diagnosed with ALS on Sept. 7, 1994. She began using the ventilator on Thanksgiving day in 1997 and has never looked back. She continues to work and exhibit her art as a professional artist.

Says Worsham, "One of the reasons I believe I have lived so long, other than my great husband and son, is that I don't think about ALS. My blog titled Cosmic Connection is about contemplative observations of the world around me that ALS has allowed me to make through the peaceful stillness it has imposed on my life."

To learn more about Erin Brady Worsham, read the following articles about Erin and her life with ALS:

Creativity Soars Over Barriers

Having Children After an ALS Diagnosis

A Turn of Fate

Secrets of Survival

The Artist Inside

First Person Singular: A Magic Carpet Ride

Staying Alive: Does Personality or Belief Make a Difference

Mind Muscle

Life on the Vent

Connect with Erin on Facebook and check out more of her artwork for sale on Etsy.

Erin's blog Cosmic Connection is exclusive to MDA's ALS blogs.

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