Saturday, January 16, 2010

A pause in winter

I had the most wonderful couple of hours today. I was in Southern States to get bird food and bought flower bulbs 75% off. This event was my motivation to spend time in the garden enjoying the 50 degree weather and breathing some fresh air.

Very soon, though, I realized why it is necessary to plant bulbs in the fall. I could not get my shovel more than two inches into the soil. In every place I tried the ground was frozen at a lower level. Pffftht!!

So I sat on the porch in the rocking chair and watched the birds start to call each other to my feeders. They do that, you know. The blue Jay comes and squawks and soon another one shows up. I had between ten and thirty birds at any given time. Ten cardinals at once, two blue Jays, goldfinches, a tufted titouse pair, house sparrows, wrens, doves, and a pair of downy woodpeckers.

I pulled out my old binoculars and my bird book and started watching behaviors. I read about a new bird I haven't ever seen, the red bellied woodpecker. It is about 9 - 10 inches with a florescent red 'mohawk' extending down the back of its head and onto its neck, a red tinged belly, and black and white spots on its wings.

I kid you not - as I sat there... a female red bellied woodpecker landed right in front of me.. She skidded in and landed crazily like a Canada goose on a pond, and took her seed, flying up to a tree to smash it apart. She returned several times and I watched her for half an hour. (Every time she landed it was like she braked too late, skidding into the grass.) Her mate did not show but if she is here, he is too.

I was thrilled. This bird is not a migrator so I might be able to entice the whole family to take up residence in my yard.

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