A large solitary Bald eagle perches high at the top of a tall snow-covered pine tree. From there, he can see all that's happening for a mile around. He watches the deer that are browsing in the cedar trees at the edge of a pasture. He watches a flock of crows playing on the ice that covers the frozen river. He sees the Red-tailed hawk, perched in an oak tree, far across the valley; a fox squirrel eating seeds in the snow-covered branches of a Box elder tree along the road; a cotton-tailed rabbit venturing out from his snow-covered hideaway in the brambles. He watches a flock of turkeys as they kick through the snow to find any nutritious kernels at the edge of the picked cornfield.
From where the eagle is perched, he can see anything that moves from all directions. I wonder if he even realizes that he can also be seen from a long way in any direction? His large form and dark feathers make him pretty obvious against the white landscape.
The happy little chickadees gather around when I come out the door with a small pail of sunflower seeds. Before I can reach my hand into the pail, they are landing on my hat and shoulders. The soft "whirr" of tiny wings is all around me as I hold out a palm full of black sunnies. Right away, there were two chickadees in my palm. I placed some seeds on my head and shoulders, then held out both hands. It's a wonderful feeling to have the wild birds trust you. It's not magic or rocket science; anyone with a little patience can do it. I would recommend that everyone take the next step in bird feeding and get more personal with the wild birds. It's something you will never regret, and it will open your heart even more to the real world. It's also a very special thing you can teach to anyone, young or old.
Thursday brought a long-needed thaw, but that also meant moisture, in the form of rain and snow the night before. December's snowfall in this area set a new record—nearly 48 inches altogether. It's nearly impossible to predict any long-range weather these days, but I'm well aware of how much winter is still ahead.
At 5 am Christmas morning I awoke to the sound of something scratching the outside of my house. When I finally cleared my head of a leftover dream, I realized what the sound was. It's a sound I hear every winter when the snow piles deep. I peered down, out the window by my bed, and sure enough, a beautiful white-tailed doe was pulling at the dried runner beans and morning glory vines on the side of the house. I watched her, only three feet from me as she nibbled in the pale moonlight. I could easily take a photo of her, but the flash might have scared here away. I want her to feel there is nothing to fear when she comes to my house.
Of the many birds that come to the bird feeders in winter, it is not unusual to see a bird that is hampered by an injury. On the "injured list" this year is a Blue jay with half of his tail feathers missing. I'm thinking he let the Coopers' hawk get a little too close, and all the hawk got was a fist full of tail feathers. The missing tail feathers will make the Blue jay less agile next time the Coopers' hawk comes calling.
A brave little chickadee also has a handicap; he has lost the use of one eye. I don't like to think about how he got that way, because there's a good chance that he flew into a window. He doesn't seem to be bothered with only half his vision, though, and he gets along just like the others.
There's yet another semi-injured bird friend at the feeders—a beautiful male towhee. He's been here through all that tough December weather. He flies from one side of the yard to the other with no apparent problems. When I viewed him through the binoculars, though, I could see he had a few secondary feathers precariously sticking out of his right wing. He also favored his left foot, always tucking it up under his breast feathers to keep it warm.
It's never too late to start feeding the birds. It would make a very nice New Year's resolution.
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