Journal class

Observing nature is fun! | News, Sports, Jobs


Yesterday was the day. I saw my first Orioles and Hummingbirds. I only put out the feeders before they started visiting. What I love most about spring is that I can see the birds, even when they are sitting in the trees. The absence of leaves makes this possible. Bright colors catch the eye.

I’ve been waking up to birdsong for a month, but finally the birds are coming. I sat at the kitchen table so I could watch after turning off the feeders. When I’m in my living room, I don’t see much.

No, that’s not true either. From the living, I can see what is in nature behind my house, namely deer and turkeys. Last year we fed the deer corn, but this year we didn’t. You weren’t supposed to feed the deer because of the chronic wasting disease. Don really missed it. He got angry when the turkeys arrived. He came out with his pellet gun and chased them away.

Don really liked looking at nature. I think he probably saw more here than when he lived in Russell – although there were occasional deer and bears seen there.

My neighbors showed me a picture of a bear walking around the yard. They took a picture of it with a camera they had set up. I missed that because it was night. He looked pretty big too. I saw a bear several times. Don was excited when one of them walked around the yard. We just watched him walk around the yard and down onto the lawn.

My feeders are on my porch. I take them out every morning and bring them in every night. I’ve had feeders destroyed by the bear, so I’m cautious.

I made a list of the birds I saw that first day. I saw grosbeaks, cardinals, cowbirds, a flicker, golden finches, a tufted chickadee, sparrows, chickadees, a pair of orioles, and several hummingbirds. I would say that is an impressive list of the different varieties that visit feeders in Hickory Heights.

The bird that nested on the drainpipe last year is back. She touched up her nest. Now she’s perched on it, I guess sitting on eggs. When she started the nest last year, we were worried that her eggs wouldn’t stay there because it was shallow and not flat. She took care to build the edge so the eggs would stay inside. I think she had two sets of eggs last year.

Another bird is trying to build a nest just above my front door. I don’t know what genre it is, but I’ll find out when I’ve seen it. I’ll leave her alone and clean up when she’s done. It’s so fun to watch nature. There is nothing random in their plan. Everything is taken care of.

With the rain today, nature is calm. Didn’t see the Orioles or Hummingbirds but the other birds visit the feeder.

When I taught at school, I often did a unit on bird identification. I had photos of the types of birds that are often seen here. I helped the children color them, noting that we made the males – the most colorful of each species. We have created our own bird books to take home to share with their families. I don’t know how many kids have birdwatched, but at least they got a basic introduction to birdwatching and bird identification. I wanted them to observe nature. I wanted them to appreciate what we see around us. I did the same for my grandchildren.

One year we asked a robin to build a nest in the rhododendron that was right in front of the bay window. We could see the eggs when she left the nest. When they hatched, we were able to observe the pair of birds feeding their young. It was an experience I’m sure they never forgot. I had to keep my cat when there were young birds because they are natural enemies.

When I was cleaning out one of my shelves, I found a nature journal that my eldest grandson and I had made. We often walked to the Audubon. When we got home, he documented his findings in this book. We saw a surprising number of things on our trips there. His class went there for a year. At the time, I was a guide for field trips, so I took his group to the park. I even sat down with them for lunch. What a great experience it was for me! I said goodbye as they got on the school bus to take them back to school. I asked him if he remembered and he said yes. He was happy that I was his guide.

This summer, I’m birdwatching on my own. Don would have been so happy we had Orioles. He always fed them when he lived in Russell. He set up his orange feeder last year but it only lasted a day. Something found it that first night and broke it. It wasn’t on the porch!

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pennsylvania. Contact [email protected]



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