Little Spices of Life

There was a time in my life when I tried to be a serious bird watcher. I say tried to be because serious bird watchers really, really, get into their sport. All I ever did was watch my backyard feeder with a bird book on hand and keep a logbook on the birds I saw in the yard. My early life was spent in nature, but I never really spent much time noticing birds, except for my mother’s chickens and pigeons. Then, all I really did was to collect eggs, and to feed and water them in the coop. Mom raised them for food, and to this day, I really, really love chicken.

Living in a city with homes close together can’t be counted as nature, so I never saw too many birds except for sparrows and cardinals. When I moved to Frankfort where there was space between houses, lots of big trees, and gobs of shrubs I decided to notice birds. My notebook was filled from cover to cover with birds that came to eat at the feeders. After a few years I began a total bird count. Most of the pages listed ten to twenty birds but all the same. Every once in a while I noticed and recorded a new species with excitement. By separating the birds by species I was able to determine which of the lovely creatures were the most abundant in our area, like sparrows, robins, cardinals, and finches, and because we were on the border of a forest we saw bluejays and woodpeckers as well. My all time total bird count was seventy-five different birds visited the yard. If I add two birds which I never saw but positively identified by their calls at night: the Great Horned Owl, and the Screech Owl, the count increases to seventy-seven. It is too bad I didn’t keep logging my birds when I was away from home. On the many trips we spent as a camping family we identified many more birds all over the country. I would guess that my total would easily double if not triple.

This spring the yard has been visited by an unusual number of birds, and this morning as I sat at breakfast a movement along the stream caught my attention. When this happens I have learned to stop and stare at the spot. Sure enough it was a bird scratching though the sedum and tall grass along the edge of the stream. He had a crown much like a cardinal, but his color was more like a brownish tan. After another good look I recognized him as a Cedar Waxwing. Not unusual in our area, but unusual in my yard. Another rare bird that visited this spring is the Baltimore Oriole. What is different is that I have not put out any feed for the past three months, and these guys visit to take a bath in the stream or to drink from the pond. My neighbor to the north has been feeding and I often see a flock of activity on his feeders both bird and squirrel. Thankfully, the squirrels have avoided my yard since the feed is not here to lure them.

All in all, this spring has been good for bird watching. I’ve also spotted the following:

  1. Ruby Throated Hummingbird,
  2. Nuthatch,
  3. Gold Finch,
  4. Rose Breasted Grosbeak,
  5. House Finch,
  6. Red Winged Black Bird,
  7. Boat Tail Grackle,
  8. Cat Bird,
  9. Cow Bird,
  10. House Sparrow,
  11. House Wren,
  12. Nut Hatch,
  13. Chickadee,
  14. Mourning Dove,
  15. Downey Wood Pecker,
  16. Hairy Wood Pecker,
  17. Red Bellied Wood Pecker,
  18. Mallard Duck,
  19. Canada Goose,
  20. and I did spot some Warblers who stopped by while in migration.