Feb 25 2009

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For the Birds

Posted at 12:42 pm under Blog Post

Hungry for a little color and vitality in the depths of winter, Judy went out and bought a bird feeder.  We hung it up, along with some suet, and soon added another feeder to the mix.  That was several weeks ago.  Since then, we have thoroughly enjoyed the avian circus playing out just beyond our kitchen window.  Some new species arrives every third day or so.  It’s been a good show and promises to get even more interesting as spring approaches.

Chickadees were the first to find our feeders, of course.  Sparrows, finches and juncos quickly followed.  Because of the suet, we’ve seen some larger birds as well: cardinals, blue jays and even a woodpecker.  That’s a lot of wildbird activity on a blustery, cold, snow-covered day.  Several times during the past few weeks, I’ve asked myself:  “Why didn’t we put up a feeder before now?”  No idea why.  All I know is that a bird identification book and a pair of binoculars rest permanently on our kitchen counter now, and we use them daily.  The newcomers have greatly enriched our lives.

Backyard naturalizing isn’t exactly high adventure, and birdwatching seems particularly genteel – the kind of thing one might expect from graying folks – but I engage in it now and then.  I have friends who are much more into it, who keep life lists, belong to birding organizations, and do bird counts.  I know one fellow who can hear a birdsong in the distance and tell you who’s singing it, nine times out of ten.  I’ve always envied him that.  But my interest in birds has never gone beyond the casual.  As for my wife, Judy, she’s relatively new to birdwatching.  She might really take to it this spring when the warblers return.  We’ll see.

The nice thing about birding is that anyone can do it.  Aside from a pair of binoculars and a bird book, no special gear is required.  And while hardcore birders take trips to faraway, exotic places, one can watch birds just about anywhere.  I first got into it while sitting in front of my bookstore during a slow year.  Yeah, they can be found in cities as well as forests and fields.  I once saw an owl in the middle of the road.  Go figure.

Okay, maybe putting up a feeder and watching birds flock to it is a sign of cabin fever – the desperate act of nature lovers in dire need of something vibrant in the end of winter.  I must admit, my eyes are hungry for green.  Judy’s eyes welcome any color other than brown, white, or gray.  We are both glad to have wildlife in our lives again.

Winter is long here in the North Country.  Some of our biggest snowstorms have come in mid-March.  And piles of the white stuff will linger another month, at least.  But the days are noticeably longer, water drips off roofs at midday, and the sap will start running soon.  Spring will come eventually.  It always does.  Until then our feeders will entertain us, no doubt.  Every day brings some small, new discovery – a great pleasure, always, even though it’s all for the birds.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “For the Birds”

  1. Karenon 26 Feb 2009 at 11:01 am 1

    Hmmmm, makes you wonder about friends with an opinion……but enthusiasm “for the birds” by bird watchers is easy to come by. Signs of spring in the bird world are already out there. Owls are mating, Chickadees’ are singing their summer song. The red bird is as high up in the trees as he can get….calling “hey, baby…check this out!” Before you know if the red winged black bird (RWBB) will be arriving in droves….and we will be well on our way to springtime in the north.

  2. Walton 27 Feb 2009 at 6:24 am 2

    Those are the most encouraging words I’ve heard all winter, Karen. Yeah, I’m keeping an ear cocked for the red bird. It is, after all, that time of year.