Friday, March 11, 2005

little birds on the prairie

I used to think that bird watching was just for old ladies and then I started watching them (birds, that is) and became obsessed with it. We have had a feeder for the past several years but this year I added thistle seed to the mix and now the west side of the house looks like a miniature aviary, a feast for my cat if I am not careful.

I picked up a copy of Stan Tekiela’s Birds of Illinois and have identified 18 different birds just this year. Well, there are 19 really if I can include the red-tailed hawk that sat in my neighbor’s tree, not 8 feet from the feeder, watching and barely turning his magnificent head. The field guide says that he doesn’t eat grains so I could only imagine, in my wildest dreams, his great outstretched wings, all 4 feet of them, swooping down and carrying off a couple of the squirrels that just won’t leave the feeder any other way.

So far we have seen cardinals, rosy finches, gold finches, juncos, 3 or 4 varieties of sparrows, blue jays, red and white-breasted nut hatches, mourning doves, both red-bellied and downy woodpeckers, European starlings, grackles, crows, Carolina wrens, black-capped chickadees, horned larks, and bob whites. This year I will continue feeding them through the spring and hopefully I will see their babies, too.


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