Un-Still Life with Birds


I love birds. Love to watch them. Love to collect their left-behind feathers when I find them on a trail. Love to find nests of eggs that we can watch hatch.

And I feed them. In fact, I would say that feeding the birds is a lifelong habit with me. One year when I was seven or eight, I asked for a bird feeder for Christmas. My Grampa Hakala kept three large feeders in his backyard every winter, and anything Grampa did was something I wanted to do too.

Anyway, my Uncle Don—handy guy that he was—made me a feeder that attached to the outside wall of our house so that the feeder itself was level with my bedroom window. We filled it with seed, and waited for the birds to show up.

They did. Chickadees first. They’re always the first to spy a new food source. And then the gray squirrels. Actually, I liked watching them too.

This winter, my two feeders are attracting flocks of wintering-over goldfinch. I’ve never seen so many goldfinches during the winter. And now their feathers are starting to change from their seasonal olive green to their brilliant yellow.

And then, three weeks early, a flock of redwing blackbirds showed up, eating seed on the snow before roosting in our big ash tree to trade gossip in their screeing voices.

Endlessly fascinating, these little critters. I’m so glad they’re a part of my world.

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