Birds — Nature in Flight

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. ~Chinese Proverb

 

One of the most enjoyable things about living in a rural area is the constant presence of the birds. With each season, different birds arrive or leave, while others are here as permanent residents. The sea gulls are a constant, along with the pileated woodpecker and the little sparrows.

Others come and go as their natures dictate.

The ravens are also year round residents, and are among my favorites. These saucy birds, with their aerial antics and bold actions are a never ending attraction. I don’t know how many ‘words’ they have in their vocabulary, but they seem to have a different one for almost any occasion. Not shy at all, they will even gang up on the eagles when they feel a threat to their nests or territory.

Bald Eagle in Our Eagle Tree

The Douglas fir just at the cliff’s edge is a favorite vantage point for the bald eagles. Indeed, we call this tree the ‘eagle tree’, since they’re perched there so often. These enormous majestic birds soar from the tree over the water, constantly on the lookout for any possible meal.

Now that spring is here, the turkey vultures that summer here are back, and share the tree with the eagles. I have seen as many as four in the tree at once, but often six are circling over the water’s edge and around the high bank where my neighbor Mark puts out scraps and road-kill¬†offal for them.

In the garden, the pert and saucy towhees are in constant action. These little favorites, with their upright tails and repetitive gentle meowing calls seem to get more used to our presence every day. They love my shrub borders, hiding among the California lilac or rustling and scratching in the mulch at the foot of the rhodos.

Spotted Towhee

In the early summer evenings, swallows are back, swooping and darting after insects through the soft air, recognizable by their distinctive forked tail. I’m not sure where these are nesting this year, but last year they built their nest in the garden shed, high up above the window.

And there are, of course, the hummingbirds. Although I don’t feed them, they seem to do just fine with the flowers in my gardens. One zipped into my studio’s open door the other day, hovered for a minute to look around, and zipped back out. The Anna’s are our most common variety, and some are permanent residents here. In summer, the Rufous, Allen’s and Ruby-throated arrive.

So many birds – each one giving a lift to the heart in their own way.

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