I once read that having a fish tank in one’s home helps to lower one’s blood pressure. Well, I don’t know if that’s true, and we don’t have fish. What we do have is birds. Lots and lots of birds.
I’m a huge bird lover, convinced that if birds aren’t good for the heart, they are at least good for the soul. On any given day, we host about 25-30 different varieties of birds. From the tiniest chickadees to the stateliest Sharp-shinned hawks, we enjoy them all. I joke that our deck is a veritable Golden Corral with sunflower seeds, suet, hummingbird nectar, thistle, and peanuts in a never-ending buffet for our fine-feathered friends.
It amazes me how each species has its own personality as well. There are the Towhees, whose females are dark russet colors and whose males are black, burnt sienna and white. They hover close by all day, and I hear their distinct “Sweeeeeet” call, alerting me that they’re at hand. Towhees don’t walk or fly to our deck; they primarily hop on both feet, right up our steps, and generally feed on the deck floor if seeds have fallen.
The male cardinals are bright red and bring us ample color in the winter when branches are stark, and they beautifully complement the green leaves in spring and summer. The males feed the female cardinals and babies, which is sweet to watch, and makes them appear to be kissing.
The “Chunky Charmers,” or Carolina Wrens, are tiny birds, but rotund and highly energetic. They’ll sing persistently early in the morning until they know we’re up and about, chirping different melodious tunes all day long. For such tiny creatures, they are extremely vociferous.
Brown-capped nuthatches mean business: also small birds, they dash in, peck frantically at the peanuts, grab a bite and dash off. They’re on a mission, and nothing gets in their way.
I’m always amused at the downy woodpecker, majestic in its stark black and white stripes with a brilliant spot of red at the back of the head. They’ll slyly scoot up the deck railings, peeking to see who’s around, then fly up to the suet and graze for a bit.
Appearing mostly in groups, the brilliant yellow and black goldfinches are clean, crisp birds. They head directly to the thistle feeder, three of them sharing together comfortably, unlike the grey hued and red house finches who squabble and fight like little harpies for a spot at the big sunflower feeder.
Spring is absolutely delightful with the arrival of the hummingbirds, when they visit us continually until the fall. Their antics are great fun to watch as they dive-bomb one another to protect their feeding source. Every single time they show up at the deck, we still announce out loud to one another, “HUMMINGBIRD!”
My favorite birds, however, will always be the bluebirds. The males are breathtaking in their vibrant blue, russet colored chest and white bellies. Henry David Thoreau said that "the bluebird carries the sky on his back." They are gentle creatures, and elegant the way they conduct themselves. They feast on the suet, especially if we have blueberries or fruit of any kind in it. They’ll perch on tree limbs or deck rails where they will have good visibility of their house, and meticulously watch over the female and their plump little babies in their nests.
We even garden to attract the birds. I guess you’d say we’re flattered that they all call us “home.”