I learned to watch and appreciate birds when my Mom and Dad moved the younger half of the family Back to the Land in the 1970s. Up to that point, I don’t think that my Mom especially had much opportunity to watch birds with a houseful of eight or nine kids and a kitchen window that looked out on a garage, a parked VW Bug, and a gravel driveway.
All that changed when we got settled on our new place on 40 acres in northern Wisconsin. Birds where everywhere. The big farm kitchen had windows that looked out onto a valley and the rolling hills and woods beyond. I don’t remember when my Mom and Dad started feeding them, but now they have hanging feeders, suet cages, and nectar feeders that attract 6 or 8 hummingbirds at a time, as well as orioles in great numbers that eat quarts of grape jelly and build their hanging nests in the ash trees that surround the pole building.
I began feeding birds when we bought our home in this little town. My first Mother’s Day gift in this location was the 300+ pound composite bird bath that we can see from the dining room window. (My husband wrestled it into place with the help of an exceptionally burly neighbor.) When my daughter was small, I would set her car seat in the middle of the dining room table so that she could watch the cardinals and house finches eat from the window feeder. One of the first things I taught her along with her colors was the names of the birds. She now has a better eye for spotting and identifying them than I do! (Her eyes are a lot younger!)
Now that the weather is settling down to serious autumn, I am filling my window and yard feeders again with black oil seed to attract cardinals, blue jays, and finches. Later, when it is colder still, I will begin to feed suet to the nuthatches, chickadees, and woodpeckers that haunt the yard because of all of our mature trees. I throw wild bird mix down on the patio for the ground feeders: juncos and mourning doves. I will feed continuously from now until the starving time of spring has passed and the world has greened and the insects returned. Begonia