One of my most beloved pastimes, since spring / summer of 2020, has been birdwatching. It was during my first stint working from home, due to COVID-19, that I realized how much I enjoy the birds – their antics, their songs. My Dad has always enjoyed birds and has maintained various feeders since before I was born and all throughout my childhood and teen years, but I never appreciated the hobby until recently.
It has been absolutely joyous to watch the winged sojourners! Before I began feeding them, I would see chickadees around, and one robin who pokes around in the backyard. It was soon after I put up a feeder that I began to see so many varieties: goldfinches, sparrows, nuthatches, woodpeckers (hairy, downy, and pileated), blue jays, tufted titmice, juncos, mourning doves, and my absolute favorite, the cardinal couple. The cardinals have routinely come to visit each morning and each evening. I can hear them long before I see them, and it’s when I hear their first chirps that I make my way to the window beside the apple tree. I have named the male Jasper and the female Felicity.
Sadly, due to the mess the birds make, through no fault of their own, I have encountered some issues of late with pesky and much unwanted rodents. With teary eyes and a depressive affect, I have stopped feeding my birds. The traffic has slowed, but Felicity and Jasper still come by each morning and each evening. Over the months, I have spent many hours sitting with my birds, capturing photos, stringing plain popcorn, and hand feeding unsalted walnuts to the chickadees. The logical part of me comprehends that I cannot become overrun with rodents, but the emotional part of me, with a sizable capacity to love animals – feathered, furry, and finned, is just absolutely crushed. The birds who commune at my apple tree, the tree I have dubbed the buffet tree, they fly between my home and my parents’ home. If they did not have a second food source established, I would wait until spring to wean them from my smörgåsbord. In the summer, I observed many of the birds partake in the apples so I may continue to see the flighted fowl during the warmer months, when the apples are ripe and bountiful.
Ultimately, I still intend to enjoy the hobby; it will just require a bit more effort on my part. I am surrounded by woods and can take my chair, camera, and patience to a place of solitude where I can sit serenely and survey. Perhaps I will buy binoculars. I know for certain that there are owls out there, as I hear them in the late night / early morning hours. According to Mum, my Dad has plans to create an area for me in their yard, a place for me to place my feeder, my birdhouses, and perhaps a birdbath. I think the gesture is so thoughtful, and I look so forward to it.
Luckily, I will be able to continue to enjoy the wild birds, in person and via swaps: postcards, crafts, and mail art. There are many bird lovers in my family and within my (very small) friend group, and I have been working to take nice photographs to convert into 2022 calendars to give as Christmas gifts. My Aunt Nancy, for my birthday, gifted me my uncle’s bird book. He too was able to hand feed the chickadees.