March 28 – Much as I would like to think spring has arrived, the cold weather (yes, it’s supposed to be in the mid-20s this weekend!) makes me wonder if spring will ever arrive. In fact, it almost makes me think of earlier this year when we had snow on the ground, and birds in the trees.And why the trees? Waiting for (and enjoying) the bountiful meal out by the feeders, thanks to Dale. Very faithfully he goes out twice each day to clean the area, no matter what the weather, and to put out more than an ample supply of various kinds of bird food. We always have plenty on hand. In fact, one of our Christmas gifts from David and Darlene, as usual, was money to buy bags of bird food! They know how much we enjoy watching the birds, when we can be warm and toasty inside, while the birds have to make do with the cold outside! I’m more than glad that I don’t have to make the decision as to where and what we eat, no matter the season, in cold weather or in the hot and humid days of July and August! Maybe the birds don’t mind! Watching from the window, we could easily see the snow covering the grass and all the birds of all the kinds that were congregating. So many sparrows on the ground, in the box, and in the trees, eating as if this might be their last meal! It seems like some birds enjoy being at the feeder with no other of their kind. Others, like good-sized mourning doves, bright red cardinals, and perky blue jays, are happy to come on their own.
Occasionally we’ll have a flock of starlings, anywhere from 20 birds to hundreds, just clearing out the food they find in front of them—some Dale has put out and others lying on the grass just ready to provide a meal. On the other hand, we always wonder about that. When those very large flocks arrive, how in the world can they find enough food when it seems as if they leave not a bit of room between one bird and another?
Others that frequent the feeders and area around the driveway are the tufted titmice, juncos, nuthatches, a few red-winged blackbirds, and chickadees. All through the year, even in the snow if it’s not too deep, are flocks of ten or twenty robins! Dale says they don’t bother with the food; they just like to drink from the big pan he fills with warm water several times daily. Sometimes, when I see how many kinds of birds come for a drink, I think they appreciate the water more than the food.Now woodpeckers. We always have a number of them, maybe three or four in the same area enjoying the various kinds of suet Dale puts out. The smaller ones, the downy, the hairy, and the red-bellied are colorful and almost kingly. The really kingly ones, the pileated, don’t come to visit their relatives, but Dale did see one down in the woods long ago. Back in Pennsylvania, near our house, one really big one flew ahead of us when we were driving home. What a spectacular sight as that big bird flew along with us all the way home!
While winter is not normally the time for goldfinches, occasionally even they would come to the feeder. Dale always looks forward to the time when they shed their winter colors and be golden yellow again! I can hardly wait to hear them sing, ‘Spring is coming!’”
And I know just what else he’s thinking – “One of these days I can be out of the house, the snow will be gone, the skies will be blue, and I will be moving slowly behind the tiller to get the land ready for tomatoes and calico beans!”I almost forget one bird we sometimes see near our house, and that is a short-eared owl. Unless bothered by other birds, he will just sit motionless on the post in case I want a picture. After awhile he flies off to land on another post farther on. And this flight will be followed by more short flights until out of sight.
Yes, winter is at the bottom of my list for enjoyable times, but as long as we are healthy and happy, what more can we ask! We look forward to the joy of living and helping and supporting our friends and neighbors as often as we can and showing them how much they mean to us – and that includes the birds! – CHRIS