A bit of bright sun was poking through gaps in the leaves, and as I squinted to get a view of the birds perched on a thin branch only a short way above me and a couple of feet in front of me, the brightness of the sun brought on a sneeze. The loud noise must have scared the crap out of the birds -- not literally, fortunately, as my outstretched legs were directly under them -- and they flew higher into the tree and fell briefly silent. I had never before wondered how a human sneeze might sound to a bird. Since they had been cavorting not far from me, they must have been aware of my presence, and accounted me no threat. Perhaps, as their song had reminded me of some other sound, my sneeze had sounded to them as though it might have come from a predator of some sort. Whatever the cause of their initial reaction to it, they soon resumed their dialog, though they remained safely on a higher branch.
During this time, a blue jay had been pecking at some morsel atop the post of my mailbox a few dozen feet across the yard. At first, it paid no attention to the two small birds. As their song continued, the jay's attention was drawn and it hopped onto the fence and looked intently in our direction. After the small birds had moved to the top of the tree, the jay, who had remained silent all this time, suddenly let out a screech, which silenced the pair. Then he flew away, with another screech. I heard a couple more chirps from the foliage above, and then the flutter of tiny wings as the small birds departed. I don't know if it was the protestation of the jay which drove them away. Perhaps they feared the larger, aggressive bird. Perhaps they were polite, and regretted having disturbed the jay in his territory. And perhaps they simply had no desire to share a yard with so obnoxious a bird. I imagined Carol Channing saying to Axl, "Well, if they let that sort of bird hang around here, we'll just go someplace with more class!"</i> I like to think that they found their way to some place full of gentle wrens and sweet larks, and that whatever the subject of their dialog, it led to a happy conclusion.