Friday, March 18, 2011

Bird Watching and the Reality of Nature

Male Cardinal

Female Cardinal

In our back yard, nestled in a corner near the swimming pool, we started out fifteen years ago with a simple bird feeder hanging on one of those decorative shepherd’s hooks. Slowly the birds began to find their way to our backyard. Now we have concrete in the corner where the bird feeder used to reside, so we sprinkle a few cups of seed right on the concrete so the birds are much more comfortable while they munch away. No more teetering on a little bird feeder for our entertainers.

Reb Breasted Robin
  Last summer we purchased an Orbit Lounger and now we can stretch out on our patio and bird watch. Every year we get lots of couples of sparrows, red breasted robins, white winged dove, grey dove, woody woodpeckers, cardinals, wren, blue jays, and mockingbirds. Wow, I didn’t realize how many different breeds until I started listing them. I haven’t seen Tweety Bird yet, but I know he’s coming.

It is such a pleasure to sit back and watch these birds and their natural feeding rituals. They most definitely do things in a certain pecking order. It’s fun to watch the birds run each other off. Now they also know they can squawk at us and we’ll get them some more bird seed. Wild birds make excellent and low maintenance pets. All you need is bird seed and perhaps water for a bird bath. How easy is that?

Red Bellied Woodpecker

A few years ago we were watching our new pets, and all of a sudden something huge swooped into the bushes and snatched up a Sparrow. My husband and I stared at each other. “What the heck was that?” we both said in unison. Later we saw it again and realized a huge hawk was hanging around. We’ve seen him numerous times now. He’s getting braver and will fly not too far from my husband head. I sure hope he doesn’t try to peck him on his shiny bald head! Hmmm. Death by Hawk pecking. Might make an interesting mystery. Oops, getting off track. Back to the birds. Now this is where the Reality of Nature comes in.

Red Tailed Hawk - Amazing Powerful Bird

I know this hawk has been feeding on some of the birds in the neighborhood otherwise he wouldn’t still be hanging around. The other day he swooped into our bushes again while the birds were feeding and snatched a dove. I mean this dove was a very big bird too. I was shocked. I was standing in my kitchen watching through the glass door and I wanted so bad to run out and rescue the dove. I wanted to shoo off the hawk, but I forced myself to resist interfering with nature. The hawk had the dove down on the ground and I couldn’t see either one of them because of the ground cover. Then there was a shuffling, leaves flew around and the dove got loose and flew to the fence. The hawk zoomed off in the opposite direction. I have to admit the hawk is an amazing bird. Very large and powerful. I remember when I was young having dreams of flying like a bird, I wanted that free feeling. If I were a bird, I do believe I'd want to be one of the larger species, like the hawk, or perhaps an eagle?

A dove and her chic.

Oh my, I was surprised as I watched the dove recover itself. After a few shaky minutes on the edge of the fence, the dove flew away. I was amazed that it had escaped, but I was certainly glad that it had. Sometimes I feel guilty that we are feeding the birds and in turn supplying a feeding place for the hawk, but I think our birds would get very upset with us if we quit putting food out, because they certainly come looking for it and they let us know when they’re unhappy.

Beautiful Hummingbirds!
 On a lighter note, we also get a wonderful surprise each year when the hummingbirds return. We get the cutest two couples that come back year after year. Now they may not be the same ones as I know the life span is only five to nine years, but even if it’s not the same couple, we usually get two sets of them each year. It is amazing to watch these tiny birds feed and fight over the feeder. One will hide in the bushes and when it sees another approaching, it will rush out and run the other one off. Too funny to watch.

And if you’re lucky, they’ll get used to you being out there and will fly right by your ear and you can hear the speedy hum of their incredible rapid wing beats. Did you know the wings beat up to 53 beats per second? They are three to four inches in size and weigh only 0.07 to 0.21 ounces! Tiny little things!

So do you bird watch? Have you witnessed natural things that were upsetting to you, but you knew you shouldn't interfere with Mother Nature? Did you interfere anyway? I'd love to hear your stories.

Eager to hear your fun experiences,



  1. Great Blog, Wendy! I love bird watching too. And we have a resident hawk as well. He's snatched a few of our birds, but most survive to return each year. We also have a squirel we call Hammie that likes to come to our back door and look inside the house to see what's going on

    That's spring!


  2. Wendy:
    I have several bird feeders right outside my window. I've put squirrel baffles on the poles to keep them out of the feeders. This year the white winged doves discovered the feeders and they have invited the entire flock to the buffet. Yesterday there were 24 of them there. Our resident hawk only lunches on a new age neigbor's special chickens. On the plus side, I've identified vireos, chicadees, blue jays, western blue birds, nuthatches, cardinals, sparrows, tanagers,painted buntings,redbellied sapsuckers, flickers, pileated woodpeckers,gold finches, house finches, wrens, robins,and thrushes. I tell you it is downright addictive and is really distracting when you're trying to work. Last year, I only saw one hummingbird. I guess the sugar water was just too hot.
    Thanks for the great blog.

  3. How cool on seeing a hawk so close up! I'm sad for the birds he eats, but dang, that would be awesome! We used to get huge grackles in our front yard and we'd tell my toddler they were big black chickens! lol Now, my mom hangs feeders out front and birdseed out back. We, too, have a lot of flighty souls who would be unhappy if their food supply suddenly stopped!
    What do you put out for the hummingbirds?

  4. Wendy, another reason I like you! Dh and I also feed the birds and watch them from our breakfast area window. The finches and warblers seem to have left for northern climes, but we look forward to the arrival of the painted bunting this summer. We have a bluebird couple in our birdhouse and all the birds you mentioned. We also have an undesirable bird, the bronze-headed cowbird. But, we must take the good with the bad. We had the same experience as you with a less happy conclusion when the red-tailed hawk caught one of our rabbits. Ugh! The hawk ate the poor bunny in our front yard. Dh and I were like those gawkers you see at an accident. Didn't interfere, though, even though we wanted to.

  5. Wow, I can't believe how many of us have hawks hanging around. I do see them all over now. Sitting on top of the light poles as I drive through the airport on the way to work. It reminds me of Steven King's The Stand and the Crow! Kind of spooky in a way.

    Geri, we have a squirrel too who likes to eat the bird seed. I need to think of a name for him or her - not sure on that.

    Ruby, sounds like you have a nice array of birds out there. It is addictive, I love it for sure! Maybe you'll get more hummingbirds this year. It was awfully hot last year. Ours didn't seem to stay quite as long as usual either. Thanks for dropping by!

    Jennifer, Mike shoots the grackles with a slingshot and a nugget of dog food. They are not one of our favorite birds! They're loud and they run the other nicer birds off. I guess we are messing with nature there aren't we? How funny on black chickens! I buy the powder kind of hummingbird nectar from the grocery store in the pet department. You can mix how ever much you want and the hummingbirds love it.

    Caroline, I knew we had things in common! I will have to look up the bronze-headed cowbird. I don't think I heard of that one. Yep, good with the bad. What a shame on the rabbit. I can only imagine how hard that must have been! Gosh, those hawks will eat all kinds of things and not small things either! Nature is difficult sometimes. Thanks so much for coming by! Look forward to seeing you again.