This is one of my favorite times of the year to enjoy the wild birds that come to the bird feeders. It's wonderful to see so many different colors and hear so many different songs—at times, up to ten different species in the same spot. Amazing how they all get along for the most part, since they all have different temperaments as well as different colors and shapes.
This morning there were nine kinds of birds dining on seeds, eye-to-eye with each other on my 2 by 2 foot platform feeder. A male Rose-breasted grosbeak stood next to three bright red male cardinals, neighboring three Yellow goldfinches and a Purple finch. A single Mourning dove claimed his spot in the middle, and a chickadee and White-breasted nuthatch paid quick visits for a single seed each. A male cowbird wasn't shy about muscling into a space on the feeder. On a branch only a foot above, perched the brightest jewel of bird colors, the Baltimore oriole. Most all the birds were the colorful males, smartly attired in their finest courtship plumage. Their female counterparts are patiently sitting in their nests at this time of the season. I can usually tell what birds are nesting in the immediate vicinity, by which females stop coming to the feeders.
To keep the feeders from getting too crowded, I place handfuls of sunflower seeds here and there. The top of a wooden fence post makes a good mini-feeder, as does a log on the ground. The arm of a lawn chair provides enough space for a few seeds, and I sprinkle some over the large flat rocks bordering a flower bed. This way I see the beautiful bird colors mix with the pretty spring flowers. A handful of seeds on the ground under the flowers attracted a Rose-breasted grosbeak to pause among the blue violets. Yesterday I watched a Rufus-sided towhee and two red cardinals dine in a bed of yellow and red tulips.
The weather here has been cool, cloudy and wet for over a week, but in spite of the chill, spring is rushing onward. It appears to be a banner year for harvesting the sometimes elusive, Morel mushrooms. Morels are one of mother nature's best springtime treasures, and one of the best excuses for getting out for a hike.
Already the robins and grackles have young mouths to feed, and the adults can be seen flying back and forth to their nests as they take food to their new families. From the stand of pines down the valley come the loud begging calls of hungry baby crows. Their bawling can be heard for a quarter mile. The phoebe nest in the open shed now has four featherless little babies. With their parents' help, they will grow quickly, and will be gone in only two weeks.
Under a large shade tree north of the house, the ferns and wild ginger show off their brilliant green leaves. The beautiful white flowers of the Trilliums peek out from under the large May apple leaves. It's a marvelous sight, and it seems unbelievable that just a couple months ago this very spot was covered with white snow.
If the wonders of Nature inspire you to write down a few things, by all means, do so—it will help you become more observant of the life going on around you. What we learn from the natural world can only help us live our lives. Even more important, it's great to encourage children to keep a written account of their experiences on Nature's trail—with pictures of course!
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