Meet Peep

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Sometimes as birdwatchers, we find that the tables turn and we are actually being watched by the birds instead!

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Peep is a male American goldfinch who especially likes people watching.

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He shows up at our windows, sometimes knocking on the glass with his beak. Then he just stares at us, making me feel guilty about not keeping the windows cleaner.

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After a minute, he moves on to a different window and stares some more. If he weren’t so cute and yellow, he might come across as creepy!

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Eventually, Peep gets hungry and joins his darling little wife at the feeder. They make such a cute couple all dressed in bright yellow feathers.

Oh, and if you want to share the love of birdwatching with a small person or two in your life, check out this great list of 10 picture books about birds over at House Full of Bookworms. I found many of these are available at our library and will be perfect for summer reading.

Happy reading, happy summer and happy birdwatching!

 

 

 

Backyard Birdwatching

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” -Matthew 6:26

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female grosbeak

 

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downy woodpecker

One of our family’s favorite hobbies is birdwatching. And since we have a variety of birds that visit our backyard, we hang several feeders on our deck. These feeders are easy for us to see from the windows in our dining area, and it’s delightful to watch the birds eat while we sit together as a family. We usually keep our binoculars and a bird identification book right on the windowsill.

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pileated woodpecker

Whether they are woodpeckers, orioles, hummingbirds, grosbeaks, red-winged blackbirds, goldfinches, or something else, they all seem to appreciate the food. As we watch them eat, it is entertaining to imagine what each bird might be saying or thinking about his meal, his feathers or that day’s weather.

This rose breasted grosbeak looked rather dapper in his red tie. He ate first while his beautiful wife perched nearby.

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male rose breasted grosbeak

Isn’t she lovely?

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female rose breasted grosbeak

Certainly the way to any bird’s heart is through its stomach, and nearly all of our bird friends love this particular suet feeder.

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suet feeder – raccoons keep out!

 

We usually don’t see robins eat from our feeders — they find plenty to eat chasing worms in the grass. But one day I caught a brave robin trying to eat the suet. He kept flapping his wings madly — pretending to be a hummingbird, I think — as he attempted to hover near the feeder and stick his beak into the suet to steal a bite. He’d often watched the woodpeckers and red-winged blackbirds do it and was feeling left out, I suppose. It wasn’t easy, but he did manage to get a few bites and then afterward he perched on the deck long enough for me to capture his picture.

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American robin

 

Do you see the bit of food still on his beak? He really needed a napkin.

Coming up next is a story about people watching — and it might not be what you think!

Look at the Birds!

— another favorite from the archives —

 

“Look!” my big girl gasps, running toward the window. “Robins! In our yard!”

Quickly the little one and I join her at the window, and together we welcome the feathered strangers. The freshly falling snow of late March does not deter the playful robins as they flutter about happily in the backyard.  An especially plump robin perches high in the branches, a patch of snow still clinging to his red breast and his feet.

“Cheer up, cheer up,” the first robins sing.

Cheer up, indeed! Even as the snow blankets us again, their songs give us hope for spring as the end of a long, harsh winter draws nearer. Soon will come nests and eggs. Soon will come worms for the chirping baby birds. Soon will come little birds testing their wings, learning to fly.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” -Matthew 6:26

March melts into April, and the birds return to this Frozen Tundra in great numbers. Red-winged black birds, robins, sparrows, Canadian geese and — my favorite — swans.

As I’m out and about all week long, I see swans everywhere — dozens of them. On the way to church, on a walk in the neighborhood, on the way to and from dinner Thursday night, on the way to pick up a friend’s little boy, and on the way to and from a birthday party — swans, swans, swans! Soon to pair off and settle in ponds and lakes, the swans migrate together, and oh! What joy as they surround us — these amazing creatures, full of grace!

I look at the birds, and God reminds me of His faithfulness.

Without my camera along on any of these trips, my inner shutterbug longs to capture the swans, to store up the grace moment and treasure it.

The week draws to its end; Saturday evening before sunset our family loads up in the minivan and heads back to the one spots where, earlier in the day, nearly a hundred swans gathered in a low, flooded area in a corn field. Leaving my family in the van, watching closely, I head eagerly into the muddy field. My newest tennis shoes greet the muddy field and I manuever carefully, happy to find a narrow path of dry weeds between two sections of the field. I nearly sink into the mud as I approach the water.

Swans! Hundreds of gloriously graceful swans — and several ducks, too. The honking and quacking mingles into noisy bird music. Most of the swans glide gently across the water, but some fish for food underwater.

Suddenly a few swans soar up into the sky. Their black bills confirm they are Trumpeters. Their necks stretch long and wings mount high toward the clouds —  right over my head! I pull the hood of my sweatshirt over my head, just in case.

A glorious swan moment. Finally captured! I stand in the muddy field, thankful I migrated to the right place at exactly the right moment.

Looking down, white feathers float, scattered across the water.

“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” -Psalm 91:4

I look at the birds, and God reminds me of His faithfulness.

God keeps showing me how faithful He is. May I also suggest this post from last spring: Orchestrating the Swans?