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 1

My feeders filled with finches, chickadees and sparrows.

My feeders filled with finches, chickadees and sparrows.

I love watching the birds at my back feeder. It’s a daily reminder of how blessed I am and how precious life is. Watching the birds has taught me new levels of patience, observation and silence. I’ve learned so much by just being still and allowing nature to continue in its normal routine around me.

As I eagerly looked forward to spring a few months ago, I had the neat idea to transform my little bird feeder area into something more. As the snow continued to fly, I imagined creating a little fenced in garden at the base of my bird feeders so that I could look at lovely flowers and my feathered friends from my kitchen window. A framed garden also means not having to mow so close to the feeder pole that I whack my head.

Well I’m still waiting for spring to actually arrive and stick around in Upstate NY but yesterday I decided to set my plan in motion. I felt I could at least get a new fountain style bird bath and a second shepherd’s hook for hanging more of my feeders in one central location. I found exactly what I needed running errands yesterday and got some great ideas for flowers once I figure out how my little garden design.

I’ll explain the process of my new arrangement in a later post (hence the Part 1) but for this post, I thought showing pictures of my feathered friends would be more fun. A picture is worth a thousand words as they say and I figure a video must be worth about a million for demonstrating exactly how my birds reacted to the new birdie oasis. If you don’t want to watch the whole video, just skip ahead to 1:16 to see proof that sitting still and watching has amazing rewards!

The male cardinal landed but wasn't sure about the new set up...

The male cardinal landed but wasn’t sure about the new set up…

He's still not sure and eventually flew off.

He’s still not sure and eventually flew off.

A male finch investigates and then lands. Followed soon by his friends.

The goldfinches were only a little bit hesitant at first, then they dug in!

finch scope2 flurry of finches