They're Back, Finally.
Happy International Migratory Bird Day. I confess, one of the activities that sustains me through our long winters, is feeding and watching birds. And, each year, I impatiently await the return of all those feathered friends who have been hanging out in warmer climates than me.
I am not a hard core birder. I don't keep a life list. I don't have super-fancy binoculars and frankly I have a hard time identifying calls or even remembering names. But, I enjoy birds. There is something so amazing about watching a Chickadee or Cardinal brave the snow to get a few seeds from my feeder. I love watching the Finches take on their spring color. And I eagerly await the first spring call of the Phoebe, Red-Winged Blackbird and the Veery.
Right now is the perfect time to just stop, and listen. If you sleep with your windows open, beginning at dawn the chorus of birdsong can be so loud it wakes you up, allow yourself a few extra minutes to lie still and listen to them start their day, it will make yours all the more pleasant.
There are many opportunities for learning more about birds. From VINS, the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, and Audubon as well. I have attended walks with the Mascoma Audubon group, and also witnessed scientists from the Center for Eco-Studies capture and band songbirds to track their dwindling populations.
Helping birds and providing yourself with some inexpensive entertainment is easy. There are all kinds of local businesses that sell bird feeders, houses and seed. Additionally, add plants to your yard that are friendly to birds, and keep a brush pile on the edge of your property, to protect the little guys who like to stay on the ground. Although I haven't spotted our state bird yet, I know soon I will see the Hermit Thrush. And that loud buzzing you hear by your blooming plants, it isn't a mosquito, rather it is the return of the hummingbirds! Of course there are others who like birdseed and in we have quite a few fat squirrels and chipmunks in spite repeated attempts to chase them off the feeders.
Once you start getting into birds, you will make excuses to visit a National Wildlife Refuge, or seek the wisdom of our Vermont Bird Diva. And if you are a traveller, try and read up on birds in other states, so that when you are out and about and spot or hear something new, you can impress your family and yourself by knowing what it is you are seeing.
Migration is in full swing right now. So look for opportunities to get outside and watch, observe and possibly learn something new. In a few short months, many of these feathered friends will be high-tailing it out of here before the first snowfall. But remember, those left behind are hungry. Speaking of hungry, pay attention and don't put up feeders if there are active bear in your area. Instead, consider planting native species that can provide food and protection for the birds that are in our neighborhood. Once fall comes, it is safe to put up your feeders, providing extra fuel for those who are leaving and those staying put. Keep a look out, soon you will see some baby birds in nests as well. Happy Spring!