The search has been terrifying so far. I have been shaken since the very first place I called, which seemed like the best one on the list. They didn't answer the phone, and the answering machine message was literally, "JESUS. *beep!*" I was so confused, I didn't leave a message. Then I was scared. I don't care if you have religious convictions, but are you or are you not in the business of rental housing? It wasn't a question or an adulation: it was a command. It's the second time Jesus has reached out to me in two days; he left a flyer behind my screen door yesterday, the equivalent of saying, "Here, you throw this away."
The next place I called did at least identify who it was. However, every other place has either said, "You have reached [insert phone number]," without saying who it was or the even-more-cryptic default computer voice, "Sorry, we're not here right now. Please leave a message." I guess people go to Alaska not to be found anymore, even if they are running an apartment/cabin rental BUSINESS.
Whether I take the job hinges on whether I can find housing that will meet my and Amber's needs. She will not abide me going there for six months without getting a slice of that life. I wouldn't want to be there alone, either. I'd really like a place with running water, and half of the places on the list I have don't even have that. One place doesn't have water, but makes clear that there is a creek from which you can filter water! Two weeks of filtering water would be OK, but six months? I don't think so!
With that issue as yet unresolved, back to local events. The American tree sparrows - which officially are winter residents here but I challenge you to find one in the winter - returned to my feeder yesterday. My experience last year was that they were the vanguard for other Canada-bound birds. They aren't noisy, but their song is very similar to the white-throated sparrow's song in melody, without the same tonal qualities.
The American tree sparrow, feeding on a sunflower seed outside my window. The keys for identifying this bird are the rufous-colored eye stripe and the black dot in the center of its chest. Similar-looking birds include the chipping sparrow, Lincoln's sparrow, and song sparrow.
The squirrel knocked the feeder off the window and it amounted to a massive grain spill on the ground, which attracted these shy sparrows. I moved the feeder a little higher up and a little farther away from the railing from which the squirrel can jump onto the feeder from, and that seems to have baffled it for now. The chickadees are back at my feeder and seem chipper. I don't know where they've been. I felt betrayed. I've seen a bald eagle flying around the bluffs next to the housing area the past few days.
Addendum: There is also a common redpoll feeding outside my window today. This is either a female or a first-winter juvenile.