It is a new year.
Sitting on my patio.
Watching the birds feed and mate and sing.
One hand on my book.
One hand waiting to pickup my camera.
Enjoying the sounds of the trees and my feathered friends.
Trying to ignore the drag racers screaming up and down the Pike.
Listening to the low rumble of freight trains.
The urgent whoosh of the Metro trails on their tracks.
The longer, steady chug of the passenger trains.
I mowed the yard yesterday. I expected to see the brigade of Robins hunting the fresh buffet for bugs and worms. But they’ve been absent today. My feeder is full of sparrows and mourning doves.
I share a deep love for the Mourning Doves as they seem large and unsure of themselves as I have as I went through life. Never quite sure if I could perch on a feeder. Or if I could get my head into find the seeds.
The highlight of today though was the Northern Flicker.
I’ve seen Downy and Red-bellied woodpeckers before. But this was a new bird for me. It’s exciting to see a new friend come to the neighborhood.
I am a semi-professional bird watcher now. It started when I was working from home in my last job. But now that I am home and nowhere else I’ve been enjoying it (and them) all the more. It started with one feeder. A bright yellow feeder I could load up with seed and let the sparrows take over.
Then I got two suet feeders (once I learned what suet was). That’s when the woodpeckers started showing up. The downy woodpecker and red-bellied woodpecker take turns visiting my yard and are beautiful in their own ways. The red-bellied one is a particular treat as he’s a large bird that likes to linger and eat his fill. He’s also one of a few birds I’ve seen willing to take on a Blue Jay. Did you know Blue Jays are territorial and will fight and kill other birds? I didn’t until I witnessed one take down a little sparrow and found a Cardinal I suspect met the unkind claw of the murder bird.
The third feeder I got sticks to a window with suction cups. After some trial and error (and moving it to the second story of my house because squirrels will climb the window screens to get to it) it found a home outside my office window. I get daily visits from the downy woodpecker which is a delight. Until a family of European Starlings moved in and decided it was their. I counted as many as 4 birds crammed into the feeder and at least three young birds in the group. They were very boisterous and made their presence felt in my backyard.
I continued to be surprised and delighted by the number and type of birds my little yard is able to attract. The Mourning Doves along with the woodpeckers are my favorites. Though I am convinced all Robins need to have little top hat and monocles. They stand so tall and upright when they patrol the yard for food. They look so proper.
And doves always sound sad. If you hear a sad mournful call, you have doves nearby. I love how they waddle along living their life. Doing their own thing. They, like the Robins are ground feeders and instead of competing for the bird seed at the feeder, wait below it for the sparrows to make a huge mess when they toss it all over the place. Working smarter, not harder is the Dove way.
I can’t talk about bird feeders without mentioning squirrels. They like to crawl up to the feeder and hang from it and feast on the seed there. Recently, they’ve taken to knocking it out of the feeder and piling it up underneath in a little spot where they’ll sit and feast.
I don’t mind the squirrels so much in that they eat the feed. But they scare off all the birds at the feeders. I don’t need to look at squirrels. I can do that any time. I want to look at birds as they come and go. I haven’t gone as far as buying any feeder that claims to outsmart squirrels (because I don’t think any of them will actually work). But I do have a baffle I am going to put on the shepherd’s hook holding the seed feeder and see how it does.