Monday, April 30, 2012

Bird Watching

Birds are interesting creatures. I've had a life-long fascination with our feathered friends. 

I remember as a child, sitting on my great-grandmother's porch in spring and watching hummingbirds have their way with her petunias, geraniums and other flowers.

When we built our house, one of the first things we did was put up hummingbird feeders. They hang just outside the windows of our great room, and we anxiously await their arrival from South America each year. 

They fly thousands of miles, and then one morning they hover just outside the window looking in chidingly as if to say: ‘Hey our throats are like a desert out here. Can you get on the stick and put nectar in the feeders?’

I built blue bird houses many years ago and put them up in the back yard. Each year we spend a lot of sunny afternoons on the back deck watching them build nests and feed their young once they hatch out.

Today I went out to the screened porch to write. Often when I can't come up with a decent idea, I'll head to the porch. There's something about wind in the chimes, and the earthy smell of spring that inspires me. Even when it seems my creative well has run dry, the porch always provides a spark.

As I sat patiently awaiting the arrival of the muse, I realized it was a little warm so I stepped inside and flipped on the porch ceiling fan. When I looked up, the light globe was so dirty, you could barely see the bulb.

I flipped the fan and light off, and loosened the thumb screws holding the globe in place. When I pulled it down, I found a tiny sparrow's nest. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was from last year. 

That's fortunate because had it been a fresh nest, I couldn't have used the light until after the babies hatched and left the nest.

It occurred to me that placing that nest in that light globe was a stroke of genius. The location was in the dry and out of the reach of the wind. It was about 10 feet from a fountain that runs day and night. And not 30 feet from the bird feeders we replenish daily.

A few years ago, sparrows built a nest in the dome of our propane tank. One morning when I went out to check the gas level, I got a surprise when I opened the dome.

A tiny mama sparrow flew out straight for my face. I jumped back reflexively, got my feet tangled up, and fell right there in the driveway. 

I looked around, as I always do when I make a fool of myself, to see if anyone had seen me get my tail kicked by a critter that weighed just slightly more than a well-fed butterfly. 

The only thing looking, was that mama sparrow who'd flown a few feet away, and was perched on a lower limb of our rose-a-sharon. I'm not sure if birds can laugh, but it sounded like it to me.

We had enough fuel to last another month or two, so I waited about calling the gas man until the babies had hatched.

When Jilda got home today and asked if I had thought of an idea for my column this week. I told her I did, thanks to the birds.


  1. Your stories always fascinate me, I wish I could sitwith you on the porch and talk or just be silent! Nice post

  2. Birds are the most resilient fragile amazing creatures aren't they? I once rescued this sparrow (or little brown bird as the vets called it!) when it got hit by a car. Poor thing bounced off the mirror and rolled on the road. I grabbed it - it weighed nothing, all feathers and light as er.. feathers! And its little head drooped back and its little eyes shut and I was blowing on it and running to the vets and just as I burst through the door, it perked up! It got the once over and was released asap. But what struck me was how light light light light this little bird was. Tiny!!!! Perfectly formed and tiny! how this bird survived the car...! Amazing creatures! Take care

  3. I love watching birds. We have lots of hummingbirds and sometimes they'll fly right up to the sliding door and look us straight in the eye. Cheeky little things. There is also a riverbed close by where we ride our bikes. Lots of ducks, Canadian geese (in season) and egrets, as well as smaller birds. Sometimes the egrets will fly up to the hillside just behind our patio wrought iron fence and traverse back and forth looking for lizards and other delicacies. I love to watch them - they're so spindly and funny but beautiful too.

  4. Birds. Fascinating.

  5. We have a double decker bird house that the boys built two years ago with my Dad. The first year, we had chickadees. A female in each level, and ONE male who frequented both nests. (I'm telling you, that bird had sister wives) Lats year, the bumble bees took over.

    This year, the chickadees moved in again. And then the bumbles came. We watched the showdown this weekend, bumble to beak.

    The birds won.

  6. I love birds as well They sure cheer up the heart.
    Those were funny stories but Mommas do what Mommas have to do. I am happy that you left the nests for the babies.
    Many people wouldn't do that :)

  7. I so love to watch the birds, especially at the cabin. I have several bird feeders, suet feeds and now hummingbird feeders out. I sit in my chair in my screened porch and just watch all day long. Does something good for the blood pressure I can be assured.


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