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Just Outside My Door 06/13/13

June 19, 2013
By ELAINE G. COLE - COLUMNIST ( , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

Last week we had mostly raining days and several nights when the thermometer read in the lower 50s and even in the 40s, but I still got more flowers planted. Hopefully I'll get the rest done this week.

Our Locust trees burst into bloom during that raining time, and now they have tiny leaves growing. My lilies beside our house are in full bud and may even be blooming by the time you get this paper. The hostess on the north side of the house and behind the garage are fast filling up the space and soon there will be no room between them.

Currently we have another bluebird couple making their house ready for another family or perhaps it's the same couple preparing it for their second family. Which ever it is, it gives us another chance to watch them close up once they begin to trust us.

They really are quite friendly birds and they fly up quickly when they see me come with their mealy worms. They also sing to us regularly. I also enjoy watching how graciously Mr. Bird cares for his misses. He often brings food to her when she sits on the telephone line or to their house when she is brooding.

The bluebirds are not the only birds that care for families. I've seen many of them taking food to the nest, and sometimes I see one of their parents fly to the ground to feed a young one that fell out of the nest.

Years ago the kids found a baby on the ground. I can't remember what species it was, but we didn't see its parents. We named it Cheapie because it kept cheeping. Then, because I was afraid a cat or something would kill it, I put it in cage on a table on the back porch. It wasn't long before its parents found it and began feeding it. They continued doing that until the little one got bigger, and so opened the cage and it flew out and up.

At times I have read one should never touch a baby bird or the mother would disown it. I found that was not true for when I went once to Jamestown and visited bluebird nests, the lady that presided took us to them got some of the babies out of a nest and let us hold them. She said the mother would find one even if it fell.

Nevertheless, I am still leery that one on the ground could be killed especially if it isn't in a bush. Anyway, we all enjoyed our time spent with Cheapie.

I always especially like bird watching in springtime. It's fun to see the young ones when they first fledge, and lately I have been seeing the young robins. So far I haven't seen other birds bring their young to the feeders to dine, but they often do after the birds have fledged. They continue to come even after they are almost as big as their mothers. I think probably the young ones are a bit like human babies and young children who still come to their mothers for food and attention.

If you haven't ever been a back yard bird watcher, I can attest it can provide cheap entertainment unless you count birdseed, feeders and birdbaths. However, if one wants to badly enough, they can make or grow those items at less cost. One can get a bird book from a library, secondhand book store on the Internet or try to find one at an auction. Of course a binocular can come in handy, but not any of those things are absolutely necessary. You can simply step quietly outside or go into a woods and be still. Watch and listen carefully to one bird at a time. Eventually you recognize the differences in each one. Of course then you will have to compare them to bird pictures, which can be obtained in a free library.

I began watching birds as a young child without any of the above. I spent a lot of time outside in the yard and in the woods watching birds along with trees and other things. My mom could tell the species of many birds and had feeders.

After I was married, we soon began feeding birds, and after I began having children, I had large pictures on the dining room wall of many bird species and the kids enjoyed them. Soon they looked for them and learned to recognize some of them by sight and often by sound.

I believe bird watching, whether it's just in a simple way or more involved, is relaxing, enjoyable and educational. There's no better time to interest them at an early age. It's especially good for children and youth, and it is available to everyone. It can be a rewarding occupation. I remind you to remember Roger Tory Peterson who grew up in Jamestown and began watching birds at an early age.



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