My grandma Lu knew about all the local birds species, and here at my parents house where we live now, there are bird books and binoculars ready for use in the kitchen. Displayed on shelves are beautiful wooden birds and ducks hand carved by my grandfather and uncle.
I know many people who love bird watching. But somehow I did not get the birds gene, and even developed an aversion to them. My apprehension goes back to seventh grade when I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” at a sleepover party. I was traumatized, and for months I was sure that tree branches brushing against my bedroom window were birds pecking to get in. I have never gotten over that completely. To me birds seem like creepy miniature dinosaurs with sharp beaks and beady eyes.
There was a bird feeder outside our den window in Minnetonka, but I did not pay much attention to it. My husband, Wayne, spent more time in that room reading the paper in the recliner, and taking over the desk. The bird feeder would sometimes be empty for months at a time until Wayne got around to filling it. Woodpeckers in Minnetonka pecked dozens of holes in our cedar siding.
One time years ago my sister was on a trip with her family near Traverse City, Michigan. While having a picnic lunch at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, aggressive seagulls swooped down and took sandwiches out of the children’s hands.
At the lake where we live now, there are multiple bird feeders in view outside the kitchen windows. We regularly have multiple kinds of woodpeckers, including red bellied, hairy, and pileated at the feeders. There are hummingbirds during the summer. An owl regularly hangs out in a tree at the edge of the yard (what kind?), and in the woods on the path to the cottage. We have had a wild turkey hen walking down the road followed by her 10 chicks in a line.
Last fall we had flocks of trumpeter swans flying low overhead, looking like small aircraft coming in for a landing on the field across the road. We see eagles regularly perched in trees near the lake, or flying past.
Later in the fall we took a walk over to our family cottage. The water at the shore was frozen completely clear and still, looking like a diorama with plexiglass ice at a natural history museum. There was a section of open water, then more ice. Out in the lake, an eagle was sitting on the edge of the ice. Further south we saw two trumpeter swans.
I don’t know how the birds manage all winter but we continued to see them every day regardless of weather conditions. Wayne went out in the middle of a blizzard to refill the feeders. I hope the birds appreciate that!
My dad had placed a shelf in one of the upper corners of the front porch so the robins had a safe place for their nest, and there are usually one or two batches of nestlings raised there each summer. This summer we found a nest in the other corner of the porch, where there is only a narrow ledge. One day when I went out on the porch to sweep away spider webs, I realized the nest was piled high with birds, looking like it would tip off the ledge any second. It was not clear they were alive, so I put the broom away and used a step latter to get a better look. Without getting too close I could see they were breathing, so I backed away. A few days later it was hot out and the hanging plant near the nest desperately needed water. When Wayne reached up with the watering can, all the young birds flew out of the nest simultaneously, landing in nearby tree branches.
Birds are still not my favorite part of the animal kingdom, but I have come a long way from the bird trauma days of my past, and am learning to appreciate their beauty and variety.