The Joy of Bird-Watching

Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved birds and watching them raise their families.  From watching them build their nests, to feeding their young and coaching them to leave the nest, there were lessons to be learned, and the stern attitude and tireless time spent staying after food and number of trips per day, were lessons in parenting that I’m not sure I would have seen so vividly.

The Carolina Wrens that built nests in our old wood garage, where our dad tacked up fertilize bags turned inside out along the rafters. They truly love a place to hide. The birds would build and raise their young in that old garage, with two collie dogs, lying under the workbench.

We owned and operated a dairy so we didn’t spend much time sitting in the old tin covered garage, but when it rained, we cracked walnuts from the tree in the front yard, for our Christmas Fudge.  We would listen to the birds come and go and the conversations they seemed to have with each other. Our dad would do the dialog, for example, when one would come in and sound frustrated, he would say something like, “Who didn’t take finish their chores, or who left this mess”, and then he’d encourage us to listen and make up replies.  Sometimes it was instruction on leaving the nest and the do and don’ts of the farm cat and her kittens.

Every time my sister and I see or hear a wren, we discuss how they seem to be there just at the right time to lift our spirits.  When God knows when every little bird falls from the sky, and even how much more precious we are to him, it makes me think of our mother and dad and the reminder of them that we are blessed with.

We loved the bob whites and the bluebirds that faithfully built every year and also the martins that daddy called “the girls” as spring arrived and he would begin to say “it’s about time for the girls to come home.” We had cardinals in the bushes and hawks that visited the chicken lot sometimes. These are all fond memories that no amount of money could replace. We were poor but we didn’t know it, and we were rich in love.

When my husband and I recently built our new home, we were there one afternoon as construction was progressing. At dusk, the sound of bob whites talking to each other from our back field to across the yard gave way to a feeling of, “we are home.” Within the next few days we heard wrens chattering and woodpeckers tapping on the trees.

My husband comes home occasionally with a hawk sighting or the count from a flock of turkeys, so I really think he’s catching the bug.

Our granddaughter, Abi, who just turned 9, is becoming an avid bird watcher and recently reminded me that when she groomed the horses that the hair was left in a pile intentionally so the birds could use it in their nests.

Spring is upon us and the activity level is increasing in the woods around our home. We have been fortunate to go on a couple of bird walks recently and spotted a Louisiana water thrush and yellow-rumped warblers that are making their way thru on their way north. Adding new birds to our life lists is always exciting. There are so many species that I didn’t even realize came thru our area.

A customer reported Friday that the she had seen hummingbirds, so it’s definitely time to put out your feeders. Last year our first sighting reported was March 17, so we are a little later this year.

Advice:  Try different kinds of seeds as the different birds like particular kinds, or in the instance of the European starlings, the doves, and the squirrels – they are not crazy about safflower. I place the safflower in the feeders nearest the house which attracts songbirds and then feed the doves and starlings in a different location. This allows us to enjoy the song birds and the many varieties at your most monitored feeders.

Also when you see a flock of birds, I’ve learned most of the time there will be another species amongst them. I’ve found this in European starlings, robins, ducks and geese. Recently a group of starlings feeding on the ground included a flicker and also a grackle.

Binoculars are a great investment, as they allow you to scan and pinpoint individuals and their habits.

My number one goal is to share what I’ve learned and am learning to create a place where we can talk about the joy of watching birds, and some of their habits.

Until next time, happy birding!


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