The return of familiar songs and soaring

Adult male Red-winged Blackbird

There was snow on the ground yesterday morning but today started out warmer than it had been for the last week and it just got better from there! The forecast calls for 50’s and 60’s all week with plenty of sunshine and the occasional rain. Rain is fine because we need it for things to start growing and to wash off the roads that are still white with salt.

When Jaycie and I headed out for the bus this morning there was a hawk soaring in the sky and he glided from west to east upon the breeze as we watched. I told her that I gauge the arrival of spring by when I see the first turkey vulture because they don’t stick around our area all winter. When turkey vultures return and start gliding through the skies on their huge wings searching for roadkill and carcasses, then I believe that spring is truly on its way.

Turkey vulture

A few hours after Jaycie got on the bus, a turkey vulture soared over the trees across the road and I smiled feeling as if the universe had heard my words this morning. Now that I’ve seen those familiar scavengers soaring in the sky I’m certain that spring is coming and that this nice weather isn’t just some cruel trick. I spent the morning working on my writing projects inside but by noon, I couldn’t resist the call of the beautiful outdoors any longer. I got Jazzmin strapped in her backpack, tied up my sneakers and grabbed a light sweatshirt because while it was 53, the wind gusts were making it a bit cool to go without a coat.

As Jazzmin and I walked, I heard the familiar songs of birds that had returned from their winter vacation to the south. I heard the songs of robins, red-winged blackbirds and killdeers. Although the “Winter Wonderland” song states “gone away is the bluebird” a few of my bluebirds never left and I heard their song all winter long. Now that it’s warmer, there will be more bugs around for the bluebirds to eat and they will be more plentiful,  which always makes me happy.

Eastern Bluebird

I feel a special connection to all the birds that frequent my feeders through the winter and into the spring and who make their homes on my property. Just through watching and listening to the birds in my yard an on our walks, I’ve learned to identify various species by their song, size and plumage. Quite often I hear birds but don’t see them and I feel a small surge of satisfaction that I can recognize them just by their song. I’m still not good at identifying the different types of hawks I see around because they’re not really fond of close observation, but eventually I’ll sort them out too.

Northern Goshawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Sharp-shinned hawk

Red-shouldered hawk

Red-tailed hawk

Right now I’m just enjoying the return of the familiar songs and soaring of spring!

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Blessings on Bird Wings – Part 2

Rainbow shining down on my bird oasis.

Rainbow shining down on my bird oasis.

It’s been several days since I created my wild bird oasis and it’s received ample daily winged traffic! I’ve seen all my usual feathered friends and some new attendees including a rose-breasted grosbeak and a few varieties of sparrows. The only birds causing trouble are the grackles but they’ve learned to fly off when I come outside or knock on my kitchen window. My issue with the grackles is that they scare all the other birds away and eat like flying pigs. I’m quite sure they can find food elsewhere so I shoo them.

Transforming my humble backyard bird feeder spot to a wild bird oasis wasn’t overly strenuous but it did involve properly assembling the bird bath fountain I bought. The original look of my bird feeder and bird bath is quite plain when compared to now. I’d left a dead sunflower out there because the birds used it as a perch but with the addition of some fence and new feeders, I knew they’d have plenty of spots to perch.

Single feeder, leaking birdbath and box for new bath

Single feeder, leaking birdbath and box for new bath

I was so proud of myself when I got it all together, plugged it in and the water started flowing through it just as pictured! Finding a mostly level spot was a challenge but when I set it up with the basin leaning into the rigid bird feeder hook, it was level enough to prevent water from flowing out.

Yay! The water is flowing!

Yay! The water is flowing!

While I was working on installing all the new parts of the oasis, a chickadee kept flying by rather impatiently wondering where the feeder had gone. I finally set the feeder up a ways off on a short hook and he then went happily over there to eat.

Small barn feeder in the background, set there temporarily for the chickadee

Small barn feeder in the background, set there temporarily for the chickadee

The complete bird oasis puts the original setup to shame but I’m not quite done yet. I plan on putting down mulch and containers of flowers within the fence so it’s a lovely mini garden as well as bird oasis. I didn’t get the plants yet because they wouldn’t fit in the cart with the bird bath but I’ll be adding them soon!

Oasis all set up

Oasis all set up

I couldn't resist this barrel bird house. No one is using it yet though.

I couldn’t resist this barrel bird house. No one is using it yet though.

I briefly entertained the idea of putting in butterfly attracting flowers but upon realizing the butterflies would become bird food, I nixed that idea. Some genius ideas aren’t really that bright…