Consider the Birds

They were always distant and cautious. For two years they built a nest in the old wooden birdhouse, raising two broods each year, but they never approached our feeders. They never made their way to feast among the others, always content to dine on what nature provided. Two years ago they fled their nest, eggs abandoned. Last year none nested here. What posed the threat I wonder.

It has taken five years, but this year three pairs of bluebirds are feasting daily. They feel at ease pulling the mealworms from the feeder then leaving nothing but a flash of blue in their wake as they fly through the barren trees.

Yesterday I saw a pair darting in and out of the new birdhouse. It stood empty last year. Maybe it takes time to trust what is new. Finding a safe place to raise their young must be a tremendous challenge. Is it fear or wisdom guiding them?

Sometimes I think we could learn from them. They are cautious but optimistic. They take their time before planting roots, knowing every place is not hospitable. They have an innate sense of danger and take extreme precautions before selecting a nesting site. Every decision is centered around the chance of survival.

I learned the female bluebird lays one egg a day until the clutch is complete. She will not begin incubating until the clutch is complete insuring all eggs will hatch around the same time. Once incubation begins, the eggs must be kept warm and will not be left unattended for any length of time.

Incubating the clutch is the sole responsibility of the female. For 15-20 days she will stay in the nest, leaving only for minutes at a time while the male stands watch over the nest. Predators are everywhere requiring extreme vigilance.

Once the hatchlings break free of the eggs, both parents share the responsibility to feed their young. Every 20 minutes during daylight hours the tiny gaping mouths must be fed until they are strong enough to fledge. Imagine the strength it requires to feed hatchlings every 20 minutes for almost 20 days.

After the hatchlings fledge, the parents will continue to feed them for another 20 days. This is a lovely and caring sight to witness. I am fortunate to witness such tiny miracles just outside my window. Observing this microcosim of life, we see our own lives played out in a compressed timeline.

When the world seems all crazy and out of control, the birds bring me peace.

On a day like this, I can’t imagine anything better that might happen in a person’s life than for them to start paying attention to birds—to become aware of this magical world that exists all around us, unnoticed by many but totally captivating for those who know its secrets. This kind of spring day, with its bountiful myriads of colorful sprites just arrived from tropical shores, has to be one of the greatest gifts of life on Earth.
Kenn Kaufman


The Holly and the Robins

We do not ever see American Robins come to our feeders although we do provide the food they tend to eat. It may be the types of feeders we use that may dissuade them or perhaps their natural food sources are more plentiful where we live.

American Robin by Skyler Ewing from Pexels

Yesterday morning, I noticed a robin pecking through the leaves before we put the feeders out. They have a very distinctive walk and being a large bird with a rusty chest, they do stand out.

Later in the morning, hubby looked out front and noticed quite a few birds darting in and out of our holly bushes. He grabbed the binoculars and was able to determine they were robins. After doing some research I learned they often form large flocks to roost in trees or feast on berries. By the end of the day, our three holly bushes were almost devoid of their bright red berries.

Cedar Waxwing by Skyler Ewing from Pexels

Our first year in this house we had a similar experience except it was a huge flock of Cedar Waxwings that flew in and ate all the holly berries. We were shocked at how many flew in and cleaned out the berries. It was a sight to see.

I am not a huge fan of the holly bushes. To me, they are a more ornamental shrub and I like to have more native plants. But I must also admit I like having a natural food source for the birds.

Nature is certainly majestic in the layered fashion that the plants and animals rely on one another for survival. We could learn a lot from nature if we would just preserve and observe.


Taking in Nature’s Gifts

img_9934Day 229

The weekend was odd. I thought I had recovered from my cold and sinus headache only to be a mess all day Saturday. I was in full-blown cold mode. I had Kleenex stuffed in every pocket I had. I was running errands and as the day progressed, I got worse. I finally called it a night early, took some NyQuil and went to bed. Sunday I woke up with no symptoms at all. Maybe it was an allergy attack but whatever it was it just disappeared.

This morning I slept in and am just relaxing a bit. I am so excited to have my children here and Saturday I hope to have my son and his children here as well. It is so important that the kids grow up knowing each other and forging a family bond. I am so glad my children feel the same way.

I thought it was time to go out and check out the garden. We have several tomatoes, a pepper, and some very tiny cucumbers coming on. I just hope they make it. We are expecting some very hot weather through the weekend. I understand it may be record-breaking temperatures.

I was hoping the weather would be cooler so our family from Florida would have a break from the heat they live with every day. At least where we live we have a lot of trees which helps keep things a little cooler. These are the days when my husband laments about our need to move higher into the mountains where it is cooler.

We only have a few flowers blooming now, but what is blooming is beautiful. The heat takes a toll on them very quickly.

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For now, I will water and try to nurse the plants through this heat wave. There is no prediction for rain in the short-term so the plants will need some extra TLC.

As I sip my last bit of coffee, I am watching the Downy Woodpeckers fly to the suet and bring the food back to the camellia bush and feed their young. The Cardinals will do this as well. They look like they are sharing tiny kisses. Such a sweet moment and one that begs you to stay and watch for just a minute longer.