The parents of my best friend in high school taught us to sing out “No bears, no bears, no bears!” as we walked down the trail to their lakeside cabin in Alaska. (I learned other things, too, in those summer days at the cabin: like the pleasures of a stack of old and musty New Yorkers, dollar-size sourdough pancakes, and reading a book while drifting in a rowboat.)
I hear echoes of that bear warning when I call out “No birds, no birds!,” as I open the door to the courtyard to let Frances out.
Birds rarely come in the Quad garden, but juncos like to use our structures for their purposes. Our first year one nested against the house in a hose reel. We yellow-taped off the area and watched her feed tiny babies with always-open mouths.
When they hear my warning, juncos scatter with a flash of easily recognizable, fanned-out white tail feathers.
The bears must too.