Many years ago, when I bought the present homestead, there was a bird feeding station outside the double windows over the kitchen sink. The previous owners of the property had set it up and I continued the tradition. Bird feeding–and watching–has always been a favorite pastime. I remember my paternal grandfather keeping a feeder in the backyard as well as a birdbath for his avian friends. It is a lovely sight each morning to see the variety of feathered friends zooming in and out for their daily sustenance. No matter how tired, depressed, sad or lonely I may be feeling (eh, we all have those feelings once in awhile…), the sight of their aerial antics lift me up. Sometimes I wonder if that old wives’ tale is true about them being God’s messengers–like little fluttering angels in disguise; it would seem so at times.
Of course, when I first moved in, that variety had me stymied a bit. I could recognize the mourning doves, the cardinals, robins, sparrows and the chickadees but what was that little gray bird with the crest? What about that black bird with the brown cap? And that little yellow guy is adorable but I haven’t a clue what kind of bird he is. So I bought a Peterson’s Field Guide for Eastern Birds. This book has received a lot of use.
Today, I can easily identify the titmouse, cowbird and finch (respectively, from the above paragraph). I also delight in the nuthatches, the starlings, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and the occasional oddity. This can be a unique bird that’s come to visit or else a non-avian visitor. Toads, chipmunks, squirrels, and baby bunnies all come to dine from time to time. Of course, last week Mom and I entertained a visitor of another sort that, while not entirely unwelcome, did leave behind an unpleasant aroma. We see larger friends, too: deer, wild turkeys, the occasional fox or hawk.
Despite the noisy Interstate that runs almost through the front yard, it is particularly gratifying to know that this lonely, little acre provides a safe-haven for so many creatures. If I stay, there are plans to develop some wildlife habitats here–above and beyond the bird feeders–in the form of native plant gardens as well as bird gardens that provide food for our avian friends. I’ve added birdhouses over the years; every spring new birds are born here, providing a gift beyond measure. With so much natural habitat being destroyed by over-development–especially in northeastern Connecticut–it is important to provide a few oases in the midst of such chaos. We share this earth with so many beautiful–and sometimes not so beautiful but equally important–species; it seems selfish to the extreme to keep taking without giving back. God made all creatures. Not for us to exploit or destroy, but to share this great planet with in harmony.
If I relocate? A wildlife habitat will be created in the new digs; it’s a plan that can be readily implemented but I do worry about the creatures here, especially with so many properties on this Interstate being sold as commercial. This is a fixer-upper. There’s no doubt in my mind that, if I sold, it would be bulldozed down to make way for some sort of strip mall. And then where would these creatures go?
In the meantime, I watch their daily flight in for their breakfast. I delight in the occasional friend who finds shelter from the storm either in one of the birdhouses or else in one of my feeders (one has a rooftop). And I pray that, whatever choice I eventually make, my feathered friends will still find their oasis.
May God bless you & keep you!
Peterson, R. T. Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Birds, 4th Edition. Houghton Miffler: 1984.