Chickadee

Chickadee

Meadowlark

Meadowlark

Bluejay

Bluejay

Woodpecker and Goldfinch

Woodpecker and Goldfinch

Mockingbird

Mockingbird and Goldfinch

House Finches

House Finches

Goldfinches

Goldfinches

Woodpecker and Red-Winged Blackbirds

Woodpecker and Red-Winged Blackbirds

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Sparrows at Water Bowl

Sparrows at Water Bowl

There is a big window
that affords me a full view
of the birdfeeders
under the Hackberry Tree
off the farmhouse front porch.
So, two days a week,
as I work at the kitchen table,
I can look up
and count the birds.
Like many other volunteers
from all over the country,
I send the count
to Cornell’s Ornithology Lab,
for its “Project Birdfeeder Watch.”
This is the first year
I’ve participated.
Every winter I’ve found great pleasure
feeding and watching the birds.
But counting the birds
has made birdwatching this winter
exceptional.
I don’t know what observations
are important to the scientists
at Cornell,
but counting the birds
has caused me to pay closer attention,
notice more carefully
the life of these winter companions.

Out in the pastures,
there are great swarms of Red-Winged Blackbirds—
large black birds,
with a flash of red under their wings.
Here at the feeders,
50-60 show up,
along with a few of their cousins,
the Cowbird.
Cowbirds have brown heads
and shiny blueish-blackish feathers.
When they all show up together,
the great flock of smaller Harris Sparrows
(about 60 of them)
give them a wide berth.
Just in the last week or so,
the Goldfinch flock has increased,
to about 50!
For the Backyard Feeder count,
you can only count what you can see
at the same time.
I know there are three couples of Cardinals,
but usually
I can only see one or two birds
at a time,
so that’s all I get to count.
There are three Bluejays.
I’ve only seen one Mockingbird at a time.
I’ve seen two Red-Bellied Woodpeckers,
but usually only see one.
I haven’t seen the three Eastern Bluebirds
in the last week.
Or the Robin,
for two weeks.
For awhile,
I could see 10 Eurasian Collared Doves;
the last two weeks,
I’ve only seen one.
And there were 12 Meadowlarks;
now, none are coming to the feeders.

Woodpecker can eat whatever it wants
whenever it wants
no matter who else wants it.
Usually it eats amidst the others,
but sometimes aims its beak
at a nearby Blackbird or Bluejay.
It doesn’t seem to bother
the littler birds,
who probably know
to keep their distance.

Actually, most of the birds here
are ground feeders,
though the Goldfinches, Blackbirds,
House Finches (there are three),
Chickadees (three of them also),
will eat from the feeders,
as will Woodpecker—
clinging to the feeder
in interesting positions.
The Blackbirds like the suet cakes too.
The birds seem to feed
all at the same time.
The little birds are there
first thing in the morning,
until the big birds come and breakfast;
the little birds hang out in the trees
until the big birds finish,
then the little birds return.
They take turns like this
until late morning,
then are gone until
about 3 in the afternoon,
when they all return,
taking turns
until Earth has rolled up
and the sun is about
to disappear.

They pay me no mind—
only disappearing briefly
into the tree branches,
chirping,
when I go outside.
But they are delight for me;
winter would be lonely
without them.

Birds at feeders under the Hackberry Tree

Birds at Feeders under the Hackberry Tree