Turkeys, Cardinals, and Bluebirds

April 30 – About a month ago as we drove past a large field where corn once grew, I was looking out the truck window to see if something interesting might be there other than cattle. Since Dale usually doesn’t drive too fast, I had time enough to check out about 25 turkeys eating something good (to them) in that pasture. Nothing to be surprised about, of course, in this area. However, when I saw them again as we drove by, and then again the next time, I wondered why they were always in the same place. Dale thought that the farmer might be putting out food for them, so they would stay by during the hunting season. Since we aren’t farmers or hunters, I don’t know if that might be true or not. In the days that followed, I might see 25 again, or 20, or 15, but always at least 10, and always in the same place except for once. One night I was sad because as we passed the usual place, not one turkey was there. However, I like to think that those birds were playing a trick on me; at the end of the pasture were several very big bales of hay, and just behind them, pretty well hidden till I looked back, were at least 20 turkeys!

Birds all over the place these days eating and eating, getting rid of big bags of bird seed Dale buys at the feed store about six miles away. The red bellied woodpecker looks pretty awkward as he moves around on the cement slab to pick out sunflower seeds. He then flies up to the feeder box and pounds them into the big upright legs. Watching him do that sort of thing during a good part of the day (he has now pounded seeds into 3 of the 4 legs), makes me think his head would be really sore.

Cardinals by the dozen

Cardinals by the dozen

Red-winged blackbirds and brown-headed cowbirds always come in big flocks, devouring the food, and flying up en masse to the trees if one of us goes outside the garage door. The mourning doves are at the feeder area, not in the box itself, but on the ground. Lately the male has been following the smaller female around, patiently waiting for her to notice how handsome he is, and also keeping other males from being with her. The sparkling bright red cardinals come in groups, early in the morning, and later after supper, although some do show up during the day as well. They are so beautiful, so perky, and real gentlemen as they court the less brightly colored females. The goldfinches have made the changes in their appearance that always come with spring. From a small drab, yellow-brown bird to a bright, bright yellow with black markings, the goldfinches change so much.

We now have a ringside seat to watch the bluebird pair who have chosen to make their nest in a small bird box just outside our bedroom window. After trying and trying to squeeze through the hole into the nest, they have solved the problem by flying to the side of the box and moving through the ventilation area. Unfortunately for them, sparrows have built nests in that box for several years now and have come back to claim it for their home for another season. Several times the two males, a blue bird and a sparrow, have had little altercations while we watch their activities from our window. Usually it’s the sparrow who gets the worst of the deal, as he tries to fly at the blue bird and win back his old home for his mate. Dale came in to say that he had seen the bluebirds earlier this morning. Both arrived at the same time, looked around a bit, and then the female made her way inside the box. After sitting on the house and looking in, he flew away. Good! We know now that they haven’t given up. Must be that the sparrows did, because we haven’t seen them near the box since that first day.

A bird in the hand...

A bird in the hand…

Speaking about bluebirds, last summer we heard a bang on the front door. When we checked to find out the reason, we found an adult male lying on the porch, knocked out from hitting the door. Dale picked up the bird and held it while I got my camera. About twenty pictures later, the bird was just beginning to wake up a bit and come back to life again! The strange part of the story is this – even after the bluebird was awake, he just continued to sit in Dale’s hands, seeming to enjoy that chance meeting with a human being. I remember a little song that I would sing when I was much younger, “And so remember this, life is no abyss, somewhere there’s a bluebird of happiness.” – CHRIS

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