There are many good reasons to put some seed out for the wild birds. Some of these reasons are obvious, yet there may be some that you haven't thought about.
It's a good feeling when you can look out the window, any time of the year, and see and hear the wild birds. In the winter, you feel a sense of well-being knowing the birds won't have to go hungry. The chance to learn the names of the birds becomes much easier, and your understanding of what goes on in their world becomes more clear. Because you get to watch the birds going about their lives, your appreciation of your own environment becomes stronger. The wild birds may remind you to slow down and enjoy your life, even if it's just for a few minutes at a time.
When you've got an active bird feeder, it can't help but be a topic of conversation when guests come to the house. It may be a chance to exchange bird stories and ideas with others who know the joys of feeding the birds. Then comes the chance to stimulate the minds of children. They have the ability to learn and remember the names of the birds; all they need is someone to teach them. Helping kids learn about the wild birds is a wonderful gift that will inspire compassion for living things in their hearts for all their lives. Whenever I'm talking with folks who show compassion for the birds, I know I'm talking with someone who cares.
The cold spell finally snapped, as it warmed up to 35 degrees and sunny one day, and hit 40 the next. Any kind of thaw is welcome, as far as the wildlife is concerned. The deep snow has been a definite hardship for many. I watched a beautiful Red-tailed hawk fly up into a large oak tree this morning, carrying a bushy-tailed gray squirrel he had just caught. This seasoned hunter must use all his instinctive skills to catch the squirrel, who is not easily caught. The hawk knows that if he is not careful in his grab, the rodent will bite him in the leg or foot. Such a bite could be disastrous for the hawk, hindering his ability to secure prey—and if he can't eat, he will die.
Outside of spotting an occasional small animal, or some "road kill," there are few winter food options for the hawk. Just last summer, people were complaining that there were too many gray squirrels in the area. The hawk will naturally do his part this winter to help curb the squirrel population.
In the summer, the hawk has an abundance of different mammals, birds, amphibians, and insects to eat, so he has no need to endanger himself by trying to catch a large squirrel or any other animal that may do harm to him. A young hawk, on the other hand, hasn't developed the hunting skills of a seasoned adult. Because of this, first-year hawks are almost always hungry, and anything is fair game—even chickens.
I thought a little something from the Tropics might help warm your hearts on a cold winter day, so I'm sending this Toucan to you down Nature's trail.
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