By Lynn St. Georges
I open the garage door and the first bird song I hear is the red-wing blackbirds. There’s not much singing this time of year, only one or two birds, but it’s enough to keep me focused anticipating the songs they begin to joyously sing in great numbers late in January. That’s when my heart blooms knowing spring is nearing, but for now, this knowledge makes the short days of rain and gloom bearable.
I hear the crows begin to call each other as they gather on the power lines above my road. The Stellar’s Jays begin their rusty gate-sounding call, their excitement growing.
First I scatter the millet mix on the driveway, and then top that with the fancy seed and nut mix. That’s topped with shelled peanut pieces. Then I grab the bag of peanuts in their shell, and walk toward the end of my driveway and toss great handfuls into the road. If I spot the mallards on the house roof across from mine, I’ll also add the corn mix to the side of the millet pile. The whole time my fingers are crossed hoping the birds get theirs before the raccoons arrive to ruin the party.
The crows already are landing on the road when I turn to close the garage door and stand by my front window to watch the show. The Stellar’s Jays already are bouncing onto the street to grab a peanut and give it a shake to ensure it’s the best one. The jays also land on the pile on the driveway, furiously grabbing what they can before flying off to their stash places.
When the peanuts in the shell are gone, the crows leave. Eventually the jays calm down and begin their departure. Then the red-wing blackbirds begin their swoop, first leaving the cluster of tall trees across from my house flocking to my maple tree, and then in one swoop the flock lands on the seed pile. When startled the entire flock lifts in unison, only to quickly land again to feed more. This continues for several minutes until they take their leave.
They are joined by a few Eurasian-collared doves, quieter now than in summer when their attention is more focused on breeding than food.
In late morning the mourning doves arrive, this time of year in a flock of up to 20. They quietly peck at the diminished seed pile, and the juncos start to land around the perimeter. When all the other birds have had their fill from the pile, other juncos leave the dead blooms on the neighbor’s butterfly bush to meet at the nearly gone seed pile.
By early afternoon there is no evidence of seeds. I add another scoop for the afternoon feeders. At dusk the juncos are the last to leave.
All day the black-capped and chestnut-backed chickadees come to the hanging feeders, unselfishly taking one seed at a time and leaving to eat that alone in a tree before coming for another. The northern flicker and hairy and downy woodpeckers seek out the suet cakes one by one. The house finches are happy to have the tube feeder for themselves, near where the Anna’s hummingbirds come for their winter food.
I’m rewarded each day with bird songs and the delight that comes from watching them. Here, I receive the daily gift of thanks that comes from my giving.