Birds offer endless entertainment – commercial-free

Birds offer endless entertainment – commercial-free by Bob Karolevitz I�ve not taken to the rocking chair full time yet, but I do enjoy sitting in our screened-in porch – drink in hand -�and watching the birds twittering away in what we laughingly call our lawn.

The wrens have finally arrived, so I know that spring is here. Take it from me, they are better harbingers of the season than robins, some of which stay around all winter.

I can now probably take down the For Wrent sign by the unique bird house which Paul Nelson, our retired rural mail carrier, made for us.

The bluebird boxes � which I can see from my seat on the porch � still don�t have the azure-colored inhabitants meant for them by friend Jack Breckenridge, the builder � but I think wren families are making good use of the houses in the interim.

I watched song sparrows pecking away at the dandelions, which we�ve got more than enough of, and I wondered what they were eating.

Maybe it was the tiny seed of the �blow flowers� ��as Grand-Sam called them � and immediately I got to thinking about another potential agricultural product which would make us a million bucks.

I thought: wouldn�t it be wonderful if we could harvest all those dandelion seeds and sack them up for bird feed?

My imagination started running away with me, until I figured out that it would take zillions to get a cupful. They�d even be a lot more expensive than niger seeds which we feed to the gold finches. that�s when I dropped the whole idea and went back to bird-watching without complications.

Our so-called lawn, I noted, had more than its share of black-birds. They, too were busy looking for gosh-knows-what. Some of them were starlings, but I didn�t care.

I remembered from previous research that 30 pair were imported from England in 1890, and now there are something like 200 million of the obnoxious birds wreaking havoc with crops and cattle feed all across the country.

Somebody said they also drive bluebirds away � which, I guess, is one of the reasons I don�t have any. Oh well, a few starlings in our dandelion patch don�t pose much of a threat.

I probably shouldn�t write about English sparrows here because I caught heck for calling them �eaves droppers� in an earlier column. This time, though, I just enjoyed them as they flitter hither and yon among the other birds in my view.

I watched a lone red-headed woodpecker fly to and fro with no apparent reason for its flight. It most likely knew what it was doing, but it wasn�t obvious to me.

I looked for a Baltimore oriole, but I didn�t see one. It�ll probably come later to build its unusual nest in the cottonwood tree as it did in the past. But then I�ve got to save something for the next time I sit on the porch!

Actually, the scene before me is like a multi-ring circus which changes with each new specie. There is the killdeer which has a nest near our roadway; the barn swallows which dart about chasing mosquitoes and other bugs.

Occasionally I see the bright red of the male cardinal, the blue of a bunting and the dull gray of the turtle doves. They color my vista.

It�s like television with no remote � and no commercials. There�s always a musical backdrop, too, as a mourning dove calls out his distinct melody, to be echoed by another from a perch far away.

Needless to say, I recommend it if you want to get away from the rat race. All you need is a porch, a soft seat and a drink in hand. The feathered cast will keep you entertained.

� 2004 Robert F. Karolevitz

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