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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Appreciating what we have

A titmouse, one of our favorite regulars
I wonder how many of us who enjoy watching the wildlife out our windows are ungrateful. I don't call myself a birder and am not organized enough even to begin a life list, but I find myself taking our regular backyard visitors for granted and suspect that I'm not alone.

Not long after we moved to our house, I arrived home to see a pileated woodpecker outlined against one of the big oaks in the backyard. Never mind that downies are almost daily visitors and redbellies frequent ones: I had to post on Facebook that I'd seen my first (and so far only) pileated in the yard.

The other day, the finches at the sunflower feeder included a male purple finch, the first in a long time. He flew off before I could get the camera, but the presence of our genuinely native finch, as opposed to the cousin that has made itself at home in West Virginia, made my day. That same day, I thought the spring warbler migration had started early when I saw a flash of yellow in the midst of the LBBs at the feeder. A yellow warbler, maybe? A pine warbler? A closer look revealed a goldfinch halfway to his mating plumage, and I was disappointed at seeing the familiar species. Then I remembered my excitement the first time I saw a goldfinch. I was walking across the campus at WVU in Morgantown when a flash of gold and black came swooping across the green, unlike anything I'd ever seen though I realized immediately what it must be. How could something so beautiful have become ordinary?

 All of our regular visitors were once new and exciting, so my goal for this year is to re-appreciate them. After all, what could be more amusing than a chickadee taking one safflower seed at a time, cracking it open on the feeder pole, and then hopping back down to the tray feeder for another? There are surely softer-shelled seeds in some of the feeders, but this particular bird has zeroed in on this complicated process. If this chickadee were human, would it be a fan of artichokes?

1 comment:

David said...


I think you are right. All too often, I put seed out for the birds and don't even bother to sit by the window and enjoy the visitors.

I know the excitement of seeing a purple finch after not having seen one in ages. I'm hoping to see some of the infrequent goldfinches as their plumage changes (maybe I should watch more often!). I've yet to see a pileated woodpecker...and countless others. Even though I appreciate the common visitors, I look forward to seeing more diversity as I improve the habitat over the years.