Then my brother Bill gave me a little book for bird identification. I was hooked. I began putting names to my feathered visitors: purple finches, evening grosbeaks, titmouse, and all the other winter visitors. In summer I quit feeding the birds and so missed seeing the many migrators passing through. And I never, ever saw a hummingbird at that house.
When we moved to West Virginia we had to build our house on the land we'd bought. I remember nearly dropping my end of the big picture window we were putting in when a hummingbird flew right up to it and hovered just inches from my face, which was on the other side of the glass. That first summer of building opened my eyes to the wide variety of birds living in the woods and fields around me. I seldom fed them in those early years because our budget was far too tight to allow for something that seemed unnecessary. Over the years I have fed birds in winter but not until this summer have we maintained feeding through the warm months.
We have two other shy visitors that really excited me--the two summer tanagers we spotted in May have stuck around, and I believe they have a nest in the woods behind the chicken house. They stay further away most of the time but do venture in to the feeders occasionally. Catching a photo of them hasn't been easy!
Of course, we get some birds we'd just as soon not encourage. Cowbirds, those parasites that lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and kick out the "real" eggs, are most unwelcome. Doves come in large groups sometimes and hog the feeders. Recently we've had a flock of rusty blackbirds coming to the feeders, again hogging it and keeping the smaller birds away. We have a canned air horn that we use to scare them off, but of course that scares off the little birds too.
If you know of some way to keep these less desirables away, I'd love to hear it. They certainly eat a lot of feed in short order. I am considering just hanging the bags for a week or so to discourage them but hate to also lose the cardinals, woodpeckers and others that like the sunflower seeds.
There is nothing like walking outside in the morning to hear the chorus rising from the woods, or to watch the antics of the birds getting their breakfast. I am glad that we now have time to slow down and enjoy these winged sharers of our space.
Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.