With bird reference books, binoculars and camera, I was so ready for this year's Audubon's Great Backyard Bird Count following my great disappointment last year. I was ready then, too, only to be whisked off to the cardiac unit on the day the Bird Count began. What a difference a year makes. I am totally recovered, thanks to a brilliant surgeon, wonderful hospital care, and the love of friends and family. Time erased some of the horrors, and as I watch the beautiful, winged visitors to my garden, I am making happy memories to replace the bad ones.
I begin with a set of bird books that I acquired over the years. At the end of this posting there is a bibliography of my favorites, and a brief review of the gardening book, Attracting Birds, Butterflies and Other Backyard Wildlife by David Mizejewski.
I spent most of the 'count' sitting in my favorite armchair in front of the French window which looks out onto our one birdfeeder and a water dish. H.H. keeps the feeder filled, year-round, with a quality bird seed mix that he purchases from our local conservation district's environmental center. He heats the water in the dish in the winter. I was blessed to see dark-eyed juncos, cardinals, downy woodpeckers, American goldfinches, nuthatches, titmice, bluebirds, chickadees, a Carolina wren, and one sparrow. I photographed some of them ...
|Clockwise from top left: female cardinal, bluebird, cardinal, goldfinch, wren.|
|Dark-eyed junco waiting for his turn at the bird feeder.|
|American goldfinches wearing their olive-green winter coats, by the fishpond.|
|American goldfinches eating the seeds of Echinacea purpurea.|
Time passes so quickly. I can't believe we are in year two of the Eastern Pennsylvania Phenology Project. Reading their blog and mine reminds me how different is this year compared with last. Last year on this date the garden was covered with snow, and the snow had a layer of ice on top, which made walking treacherous. Today, there is no deep snow as I stroll through the Woodland Walk, and am amazed to hear bird song. I can identify the cardinal and the mourning dove, but I'm sorry to say I don't recognize any more. The clock in the garden room plays a different birdsong each hour, but that hasn't helped me, as I can't carry a tune myself. The crows are cawing away, and a red-tailed hawk flies overhead making quite a din. Of course, I recognize the sound of the Canadian geese honking their way north. I count 37 in the flock. H.H. saw three bald eagles fly over our lower field, yesterday. How I envy him, as I have yet to see an eagle. A mile from our house, there is a 'Fish and Pay' lake, and the eagles live on the wooded hill behind it. There are often sightings, but not by me.
Again, what a difference the passing of time makes! Last year at this time, there was no visible sign of plant life. As I walk around my gardens now I find snowdrops, hellebore buds, leaves on the honeysuckle, and I spot the green of ferns and foxgloves.
|The angel blows a fanfare to herald the emerging snowdrops.|
|Clockwise from top left: snowdrops, daffodils, heuchera, honeysuckle.|
|A dusting of snow in the Woodland Walk and top field. Hellebore buds.|
I didn't recognize him immediately -- good thing I have my trusty collection of bird field guides. The Northern Mockingbird can stay in the northeast all year, but usually winters further south, so I was very excited to see him here today. What a wonderful ending to the Bird Count.
I am linking this posting to Donna's Word 4 Wednesday at Garden Walk Garden Talk. The word this month is TIME. And to Holley's Garden Book Review at Roses and Other Gardening Joys. Be sure to check out these two wonderful blogs.
Think spring! It wont be long now.
GARDEN BOOK REVIEW
Attracting Birds, Butterflies and Other Backyard Wildlife by David Mizejweski
This book was produced by the manager of the National Wildlife Federation's Backyard Habitat Program. USA TODAY Magazine says, it "...describes in full and fascinating detail how to get the varied citizens of Mother Nature to set up shop on your property ..." It teaches how to restore wildlife habitat in your own yard, by providing the conditions that birds and butterflies need to thrive. Reintroducing native plants is key. The book includes several fun projects for the whole family. The wildlife photographs are outstanding!!
MY FAVORITE BIRD FIELD GUIDES
Birds of Pennsylvania by Stan Tekiela
Birds: Eastern Region. National Audubon Society's Field Guide.
Field Guide to Birds: Eastern Region by Donald and Lillian Stokes.
I recommend all of these books.
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