By Angie Brown, Guest Author
“There, there in the hickory tree. Do you see them?” I was telling my neighbor about the additions to my “bird sanctuary”: two scarlet cardinals. My back yard has a large stream that flows at the southeastern border of my property, called the Haskell Creek. This side of the water, between the house and the stream, there is an abundance of low bushes, some elderberry, sumac, and others I can’t identify. Several large hickory trees grow along the northern boundary of the three and a half acre lot.
Bird watching is relaxing and fulfilling. I spend many moments watching these interesting creatures that God has provided for us to enjoy. Their cheerful chatter and singing lightens the heart. I try to identify the different ones. You can tell what they are, not only by color, but by their shape, their behavior, and the sounds they make. With the help of my son, I have set up a bird feeder on the large back lawn. The feeder is filled with only sunflower seeds, as I want to attract the smaller birds. Cracked corn and mixed birdseed tend to bring the larger birds, which I don’t particularly want. Nevertheless, the crows do come to the compost pile at the far edge of the lawn. As I looked out my window one day, I saw a crow walking across the grass, dangling a used tea bag in his beak. He reminded me of Minnie Pearl’s hat with the hanging price tag. That gave me a chuckle and brightened my day.
Yonder in the pasture, as I refer to it, two or three decaying trees lie flat, felled by past storms. These trees make a good cover for the birds. They snatch a seed and hurry to crack and devour it. Birds need food, water, and a cover. What is here seems to be the elements for their survival. If you study birds closely, you’ll notice that they eat differently. The small ones take a seed and fly off to work on it. The large blue jays fill their beaks, jamming them full before leaving. Some like to eat on the ground, some in the feeder, and some in the tree or the tree trunk.
Directly to the south of the area, a luscious swamp has settled in, made by a small stream coming from a pond area across the street. This swamp gives the roaming mallards a place to feed on slugs and water weeds that are a part of their diet. Through my binoculars, which I keep handy at the window, I have observed hawks circling overhead, then lighting on top of a tall hickory tree. They watch patiently for a chance to assault the ducks as they leave the swamp.
I’ve also noticed other animals as well, around the foliage; for instance, a woodchuck or two squeezing under the pile of dead tree branches. Hopefully they will stay there and not raid my garden! Further along are clumps of grasses, where I’ve seen rabbits frolicking. How fast a young rabbit can move when frightened! They can also strip a garden of young shoots in no time. I’ve seen deer browsing nearby and have also heard that a bear was sighted in the area not long ago. Not surprisingly, two kinds of squirrels appear often, all year long — the small red squirrel and the larger fox squirrel. It’s a joy to see some life out there on a sunny day in the dead of winter. The hickory trees provide food that the squirrels store somewhere in a cozy nook to sustain them.
Above all, though, the birds are my favorite interests. Someone once said that birds, not rooted to the earth, are among the most eloquent expressions of life. The return of the birds each spring means renewal, confirming the continuity of life.
(For more stories by Angie Brown, click HERE)