When we moved to Virginia over a decade ago, I decided to learn all that I could about the area that surrounded our rural home. As a curious person who was tending to small children and living on the wrong side of the digital divide, my world was quite a quaint place. Desperate to know this place that we thought we would call home for a lifetime, I devoted myself to learning about the trees, birds, and flowers that I would see in my yard and on our daily walks.
During our first winter we stocked our bird feeders and consulted 1985 Edition of the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds as the birds arrived. But, that spring, we hit the ground running on our hobby farm buying chickens, goats, and most notably a dairy cow. The wild birds were left to their own devices while we spent all of our spare money on our new “pets.”
After many years of tending to our animals, we have reduced our livestock down to a small flock of chickens. And, at the same time, I have begun to collect bird feeders and again feed the birds.
There is much joy in feeding and watching the birds.
There is also much heartache. In the past we have had our share of setbacks. One year a Northern Mockingbird defended every single feeder relentlessly all winter long until all of the birds decided to go elsewhere. There was another year that the local squirrels raided our feeders every chance they got. And, finally, at the end of last year many of my feeders were destroyed when a hungry raccoon ripped them apart.
This year, we have not had any of these problems, yet. The Northern Mockingbird appears to be playing nice with the other birds, the squirrels are once again confining themselves to the trees in the distance, and the raccoon has moved on.
We have had some new visitors to our yard. Last week a couple of Red-Winged Blackbirds were around for a few days, a few weeks ago a Northern Flicker was seen prowling the yard, and just this week a Fox Sparrow was digging around in the leaf litter.