Sunday, August 24, 2014

Gone to the Birds

by Leann

When Hurricane Ike ripped through southeast Texas a few years back while we were living there, my beautiful giant elm tree was one of many felled by that storm. It was torn away from the earth by its roots and if it had fallen toward our house instead of toward the garage, it would have destroyed our home. We were lucky, for sure, but how I missed the birds that once lived in that tree. I would spend every morning saying hello to a woodpecker or a chickadee or a house finch and I never realized I would miss the birds so much.

Now that we are finally in our new home, we have a big white oak right on the shoreline and a front yard that's a virtual forest. I have been getting acquainted with new birds, some that I have never seen before. An osprey comes by at least
once a day and perches high up on an oak limb. He stares down at the water intently, sometimes only for a minute, sometimes for as long as five. Then he dives head first into the lake and comes up with a fish. Every time. I love to watch that graceful, daring dive.

Mr. Blue Heron roams the shore morning and night, patient, regal and beautiful. At first
when I would come outside, he would fly away immediately. Now he stays. He's wary, but he doesn't interrupt his hunt. Often it's a fish and sometimes it's a snake, but he gets his breakfast and dinner regardless.

Away from the water, wandering along the side of the road are the wild turkeys. They are so different looking that your "Thanksgiving" type turkey--unique and fast. I
had the chance this year to see a mother herding her young across the road. Such a good momma.

The birds that I find creepy are the turkey vultures. Like all carrion, when they're circling,
something has died. I don't want to know what. Or a load of garbage has been lost. Or they're just waiting around for death. Yes. Creepy and ugly. But they have a job to do.

We have the usual water fowl--ducks and geese and loons--but oddly enough my favorite birds are still the little ones. They stay all year, they fight with each other constantly like a dysfunctional family of tiny, feathered siblings, but they are amazing creatures with limitless energy. Maybe its their energy that makes me appreciate them so much.
One thing is for certain, these flying friends bring me a peace I haven't felt in a very long time.

17 comments:

Lynda Turpin said...

Your new home sounds wonderful - so peaceful and healing. I live I a suburb, so we mainly see Finches, Sparrows, Scrub Jays. Mourning Doves and occasionally some Hummingbirds, Robins, Juncos, Mockingbirds, Starlings, Brown-headed Cowbirds, etc. I used to really enjoy sitting on the patio swing and watching them. However, when a colony of stray/feral cats moved in, a lot of the birds decided to go elsewhere. I've had to take down some of the lower feeders (no sense in inviting them to be a snack) Now I just have one flat feeder on a 6' pole and I put seeds along the fence for the birds and squirrels.


























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SandyG265 said...

About a week ago we had a turkey vulture eating a dead raccoon across the street from us. It was about two feet from the sidewalk and it was really funny watching the pedestrians. I don't think they had any idea what it was and they are pretty big. Most people froze and then either crossed the street or walked in the middle of the road until they were past it.

Leann Sweeney said...

Yes, the cats do like to do their thing! The birds you have are very similar to what we had in Texas. Just love watching them. My husband isn't fond of the heron and the geese because they make a mess along the shore but heck, it's THEIR lake!! :-)

Leann Sweeney said...

They ARE big and scary, but they do a service, I guess. (Leann silently shudders.)

Nerissa said...

Oh, Leann... You have some AMAZIN' Bird TV. Some of the actors sound like they're a little on the big side, though. Biggest Bird TV stars we have here are crows.

Purrs,
Nissy

Leann Sweeney said...

Nissy, these guys might get the best of you since they are about 10 times your size--but there are plenty of regular birds for your entertainment here. Ask Wexford. He likes to sit in the window and check them out.

mary kennedy said...

What beautiful photos! I love birds and try to make my backyard as "wildlife friendly" as possible with bird feeders, squirrel feeders, etc. In fact, maybe it's a little "too" friendly as a fox has been stopping by. All my cats are indoor cats, but it still makes me uneasy.

Carol B said...

I love to watch birds at our feeders. We have cardinals, Carolina wrens, finches, titmice, goldfinches, blue jays, towhees, nuthatches, chickadees, robins, doves, and I know there are some others I'm leaving out! We have crows (not at the feeders), but I don't care too much for watching them, since, like with the other vultures, it usually means something dead or destroyed garbage bags. I saw a raven strutting in our driveway yesterday--it was HUGE! I started to open the window to say tell it "Nevermore", but it flew off as soon as I touched the window latch. I do love to occasionally see our bald eagles that nest somewhere just across the lake. (We're a couple of blocks away from the lake itself, so I don't see it often. When I'm at work just across the highway on that side of the lake, we sometimes see one, though.) Of course, there are ducks on the lake, although I'm sad to say geese have taken over and with a prohibition now against feeding the waterfowl, the ducks have pretty much left. The geese (the aim of the prohibition), of course, have stayed, and they really do leave horrible messes behind. I still shudder whenever I remember what happened to a lovely young lady (now a college sophomore, playing college golf) when she was in high school. She was just starting to make a putt on the 8th green when a flock of geese flew over and hit her full force with their opinion of us humans. They had to throw away the white shirt she had been wearing; that stuff resisted coming out despite all her mother's efforts with everything imaginable that was suggested to clean it.

Mia said...

What a wonderful post Leann!! I agree with you about the birds. We have a lot of trees around our house and when they are singing to me in the morning, it just makes my coffee taste sweeter and the world seem like a softer place to live.

We put up a couple of feeders in our yard. It is so much fun watching the little birds stopping by for a snack here and there. The squirrels love the feeders too. I don't mind; it keeps them off my tomatoes. But to watch the squirrels and the birds compete and fight over the feeders is the highlight of some of my days. (The birds don't always lose that fight)

Leann Sweeney said...

Mary, we have red foxes around here, too, but I have yet to see one. My furr babies always stay inside, and I think Rosie the over-zealous labradoodle would chase one away ... but I would LOVE to see one!

Leann Sweeney said...

Oh, yes. Everyone here complains about the geese, but I don't think we'll ever see the end of them. Good thing I don't golf! That's like a horror story! Yuck!! We have eagles here, too. Saw a golden eagle not too long ago. They are certainly plenty of vermin and fish for them here!!

Leann Sweeney said...

It is fun, Mia and thanks! We had an awful time with squirrels taking bites out of my husband tomatoes--sampling every one. But when he had corn, it was hilarious to see them dragging an ear of corn as big as they were across the yard to find a safe place to devour it!

Colleen Leyrer said...

My sister, until recently, lived in a small town about an hour NW of Austin called Lago Vista. It's nestled in the Hill country. She had 2 ferrets, one of which was named Frito. Well, frito decided he was going to vanish and we could not find him. We looked everywhere, my sister and I, until we saw that the doggie door to the backyard was not shut. We went to the back yard to search and looked everywhere. A storm was coming in and you could see the blackness of the sky. It was almost horror movie like, the way the clouds loomed over my sister's house. As we looked up, what we hadn't noticed before, were the turkey vultures.Even Alfred Hitchcock could not have imagined this bird infestation. They were perched on top of her roof, the fence, power lines, the trees. Every inch of available area, there they were. I never knew there were so many, and they were all looking into my sisters back yard. Thankfully, we found frito under the hot tub deck, and high tailed it back inside. Talk about f-r-e-a-k-y

Leann Sweeney said...

That IS freaky. I am SO glad you found that poor ferret and it was probably scared almost to death--which is what those vultures wanted! Yikes!

Diane LaBrie Leverson said...

Leann, you sound so happy in your now home..I know I am happy for you and envy you. Birds and deer are the things I miss the most since I sold my house. We can't feed the birds because of the feral cats. Management just sent out another notice not to feed the cats. I used to have deer, all kinds of birds, fox and all sorts of wildlife when in my house. I loved watching the deer eating my crab apples. I never had to pick up the fallen apples, they did it for me. I also loved the hummingbirds so when I got to this apartment, I bought 3 hanging plants to hang in my garden. A fuchsia and two others that hummingbirds like. Can't remember the name. I don't sit and look out the front so much so have not seen any hummers.. This morning I was rewarded with one and she went to each plant for quite a while. So now I know that they do came here and I will get the same plants next year. I might try one on them off the patio next year and see if I can spot one there.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Diane. I feel as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders! I know how you must miss your wildlife. Neighbors in this subdivision often complain about the deer eating their plants but I won't be one of them. I'd LOVE to see them come close. I am so glad you have hummingbirds. I could watch them fight with each other for hours! I'll have to get a fuschia plant. We have to have are landscaping completed in 2 months so as soon as the sprinkler system is finished we will be planting. Well, I won't. I'm allergic to outside. But my husband and others will! I wish my husband good luck in keeping them away from his tomatoes next spring. It will drive him crazy!

Maggie Sefton said...

Leann----I know what you mean about the birds. I love having birds come to my yard in Colorado and the river house in Virginia. Different birds, often. In Colorado, mountain jays and a variety of black birds, feeding on the berries in the the bushes all along the back of my yard. In Virginia, hour and a half from Capital Beltway, I love waking up to the songs of birds I remember from childhood----my beloved Cardinals chirping, blue birds with red chest, all of them sitting in the two trees close to the deck. Singing songs I haven't heard since childhood. :)