Just a peep about birds this morning. You already know I like them, because there’s one singing at you every time you come to this website! I thought I would tell you about the inspiration for the ones I have decorating my shelves, and for the ones I love to paint . . . they have such interesting details for my tiny brush, beaks, eyes, feet and claws; plus their soft colors and sometimes quizzical expressions; always at their best with musical notes coming out of their mouths. ♥
I’m not the only one who enjoys painting them . . . I look for old bird books while on our travels . . . some of them have beautiful art in them. I found this one in England. ♥
We aren’t the kind of birdwatchers that go out to the woods with binoculars; we don’t have the patience to wait for them to show up. But we have three feeders hanging from the wisteria trellis outside our kitchen windows, and a bird bath sitting a little further out by the picket fence, which means they come to us. Which makes it so very handy for drawing them! Yesterday I removed the screen from one of the windows so I could photograph the feeders with a clear view. The birds did not care for this sudden closeness . . . no matter how stealthily I approached, most of them would all fly off together in a cacophony of wings and indignant peeps. This was the best I could do.
I began feeding birds (and when you feed birds, you automatically feed squirrels because where there is bird seed, there are squirrels) when I moved to the island, noticing and falling in love with all the beautiful nature around me. Seeing a cardinal for the first time was a big part of the inspiration. Where I grew up in southern California and then on the Central Coast, there were no cardinals. Until I moved here, I’d never seen one. It was like magic for me; how could there be such a red bird? I needed to see more of them! They were Christmas come alive. Like valentines in the snow; they’re the only color in the winter when all else is brown, black, gray or white. I now recognize the little twisty noise they make, I often hear them before I see them. And they mate for life; I’ll never forget the first time I saw a brilliant red cardinal come to the feeder, delicately take a sunflower seed, fly with it to a nearby rhododendren where the female was perched, and place it in her beak.
When I bought my first house on the island, there was an ancient, almost falling apart, bird feeder hanging by old chain from a branch of an oak tree outside the kitchen window; the wood of this homemade feeder was weathered and gray and lichen grew on the roof of it. I bought my first bag of bird seed at the local farm store, filled the feeder, and from that moment on, every time I was at the sink, washing dishes or rinsing vegetables, I was kept entertained with the flutterings, songs, baby-feeding, and comings and goings, of chicadees, nuthatches, wrens, bright-yellow finches, and my forever favorites, the cardinals. The trees were full of them, perched in a line on branches, waiting their turn at the feeders. I discovered that blue jays are bullies, too big for the feeders, but they manage to attach themselves anyway and scare the little birds away. Yellow, brown, blue, black and red birds, spots of color in the woods. Pretty soon my trees were filled with bird feeders and there were little flocks of ground feeders under them . . . One little movement, if I went out the back door, they’d all fly away at once.
Henry David Thoreau wrote that he “once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden and I felt I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I would be by any honor bestowed upon me.” I’m so jealous, I’ve been waiting, but no sparrows have landed on me yet. I do try to lure them with interesting feeders, which come in all shapes and sizes, some better than others. This one with the red roof was great because lots of birds could crowd inside at one time, out of the rain and snow, and it was easy to fill with seed; the squirrels liked it because they thought it was a perfect little house, a big grocery-filled kitchen, just for them.
This is as close as they will let me get at bath time. Birds are on a schedule, like us, they feed at certain times, morning and night with a few visits during the day, and bath time seems to take place in the late afternoon sun. When I come back from tea at Lowely’s, and find bunnies grazing on the lawn, doves (cooing) on the barn, cardinals and squirrels feeding from seed dropped from the feeders into the driveway, and birds frolicking at the bird bath, I feel like my garden is Disneyland!
♥ ♥ ♥
So yesterday, The birds still weren’t used to the screen being gone and me right there . . . but somebody, try to guess who, had no problem at all . . .
I could show you three different videos of this same squirrel coming back! But I couldn’t get the birds to cooperate. I won’t give up, will try again. Watching them is sort of like watching fish swim around in a tank, only better, mesmerizing! We love them year round, but especially in the winter; their happy, light-hearted energy with feathers blowing in the icy wind as they swing on the feeders gives whimsy to a scene which might otherwise be just gray leafless trees and cold white sky. And if you feed them all winter, they stick around in the summer and eat mosquitoes! So if you have a tree that might like to feel more useful this winter, once he is finished with his job of shading you or giving you fruit, you can give him (and you) the gift of a bird feeder. ♥
Bird song is the first nature thing I hear in the morning — probably seeing Cinderella as a child is what turned me into a bird lover! I mean, please, they make beds! ♥
My first birds, age six, crayons. My heart was in it from the beginning. ♥