Each morning as I wander out to check and feed my birds, I am usually greeted by someone or other in their own particular way.

As I pass the bird feeder, a chickadee usually scolds me for not putting enough black-oil sunflower seed in the mix, and on occasion it will land on my hand or shoulder as I sit in the sun, sipping my first coffee of the day.

From there it scolds Foxy, our house dog, my constant companion, for trying to hog all the attention.

But lately, in addition to a pair of song sparrows that have no fear in picking up seeds at my feet, I have been keeping company with a pair of white-crowned sparrows that seem exceptionally tame. Though twice the size of the active little song sparrows, they seem to show up from nowhere the moment I sit down in a chair just to watch the world as it turns.

Often they will hop up on my shoe of an outstretched foot and look at me through shiny, inquisitive eyes, waiting, I’m sure, for me to throw down a fresh handful of canary mix, which they seem to appreciate. They keep coming back until each and every seed has been picked up, shelled and eaten. The eight varieties of seeds in the mix seem to please them well. Often they flip up onto the fence, throw back their heads, and burst into song.

I don’t think there is anything nicer than the song of a bird in the morning. It seems to stimulate one’s heart into beating a stronger rhythm. I personally have the feeling that it beats coffee by a mile. But likened to coffee, they soon become an addiction. Not there and you’re wondering why, where, and why not?

This past week, though snow covered the driveway an inch deep, I watched as all three, the white-crowned sparrow, the song sparrow, joined by the chipping sparrow, gathered small pieces of last year’s dried grass to build their tightly woven nests. I know the song and the white-crowned build their nests on the ground hidden in grass, while the chipping sparrows love to tuck their nests in the outer branches of an evergreen shrub. You can tell the chippers from the other birds, as they like to line their nest with horsehair. 

Both the tree swallows and barn swallows are dipping and diving like ocean waves as they circle and recircle, catching flies on the wing, but the barn swallows, on occasion, take a quickly diverted dive at the robins who are, without doubt, vying for select spots on the ledges in the goat sheds on which to build their nest under cover.

The tree swallows have already fought verbal battles with the bluebirds while choosing one of the many birdhouses that we have erected. So I know in my heart that we will have lots of little birdies to flutter around in the near future.

Our mouse-catching house cat, Caramel, is trained to stay in the house, but it is a little more difficult convincing Stephen, our robust rat-catching barn cat, to stay in the barn. But his interest, so far, has not been in birds. Our day-old baby chicks have not been his challenge. Wish me luck!

Take care, ‘cause we care.





Barrie Hopkins