The Birds In My Yard

Welcome, Come on in, and hope we ‘speak the same language’. . .

My words were titled “Out My Window” and this is my winter view.  But the door is/was always open and my mind?  Oh, my  mind traveled inwardly as far as I dared, and outwardly?  As near as my next door neighbor and as far as the other side of the world.

Oh, it was so long ago, and  yet as I look “Out My Window” I smile to know I’m looking out the same window, at the same fields, except what was then pasture is now a Golf Course.  But the descendents of those birds I wrote about care little what we humans do with the land, just so we leave them their space.  And that we have pretty well done.

But changes have come, for the young lads who  liked to chase the birds with their BB guns and crossed the field and entered Gram’s home so casually are now men and, if it weren’t for the one who lives next door, there would be none of my books or this blog.

So . . . as I laughingly told my sons back then, “I knew there had to be some reason for keeping you.”

From Out My Window… by Ethel Ohlin Bradford

When the weather becomes bitter-cold I always wonder how the birds are getting along.  Around my place I can say, they’re getting along fairly well.

Early each morning as I eat my breakfast I look out across open fields, orchard and pasture.  From far down in the meadow I watch a file of pheasants making their way from one clump of tall grass or bush to the next one.  I see them so plainly against the white snow and they follow the same path each day.  Their goal is always the same.

Slowly, by roundabout way, they climb the hill, move through the orchard, on into a long row of old lilacs and, cautiously at first, but then more assuredly, they move out in front of the garage and back porch of my Gram’s.  There they reach their goal.  There is their supply of cracked corn, wheat and table scraps.

Thoughtful, loving hands see that the ration is always there.  And the word gets around for the pheasants have hardly lowered their heads to feed when from out a row of pyracantha a covey of quail appear.   They all eat peacefully, hardly noticing each other.

I began counting them the other morning, but lost count when dozens of snow birds, some magpies and a few starlings appeared.

They all each greedily, but are very much on guard against any humans who might appear from the house close by.  They little realize that the very human they fear is the one who so patiently and faithfully feeds them each day.

Table scraps, especially suet or bits of fat meat and nuts are loved by them.  The fat gives them the heat and energy so needed these cold days when their normal supply, the field mice and gophers, are huddled deep below ground to keep themselves warm and alive.

The birds that gather each dawn by Gram’s back door are friendly breeds, living in flocks, and if you see one you can be sure there are others nearby.  But there are other birds who go their way alone, preferring the solitary state, it seems.

Such a bird is the woodpecker.  I watched one recently and as he crawled up the trunk of a tree I at first thought it was a small cat.  His coloring was the same as the mottled bark and he was huddled close to the tree trunk with his head and beak stretched upward.

He was exploring the underside of every protruding bit of bark on the tree, where bugs would naturally hide to gain some protection for the winter and he knew it.  He snaked his way up the tree, clinging close, winding around about, until he reached the very top branches and then slowly flew to another.  Beginning again the tortuous crawl up that tree trunk, too.  He ignored the grain laying close by on the ground, preferring the bugs he could find hidden in the crevices of the tree. 

How do the wild things get along in the cold? Any way they can, for studies show far more are lost from winter’s exposure than are ever killed during the hunting season.

Why not forget your disposal for a while and toss your scraps neath bushes and trees in some protected corner.  The birds will appreciate your largess, your children will be entranced and it might be the difference whether some birds live over the winter or not.

Copyright 2012 Ethel Ohlin Bradford



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