HELEN LANG: Backyards are for the birds

My balcony garden is looking pretty sad but there are birds flying by, and they seem lively

Today I’d like to talk to you about birds.

My balcony garden is looking pretty sad, even the tub of carrots seems tired and disinterested in growing any longer, but there are birds flying by, and they seem lively enough in spite of the rain, and the chill in the air.

So let’s talk about them.

Several days ago, probably a week or more, a flock of geese flew by my open window, heading south, chatting to one another as they passed. It was delightful! This made me think of all the birds we enjoyed while living on Melissa Street.

We encouraged them by putting up feeding stations, and keeping the bird baths clean and filled.

Sometimes we were too generous, encouraging starlings which also ate the Himrod grapes and pecked holes in the apples.

We also attracted crows which ate the suet put out for the woodpeckers. I guess they were hungry too, but they were a messy lot. I urged them to go to the beach and eat clams, but did they listen? No!

Our favorites were the Bush tits — tiny little tan creatures who came by in small flocks, so polite, and nice to one another.

One horrible day with a driving cold rain about ten of them perched, huddled together, on a branch of the vine outside the kitchen window.

They were under a wide overhang where it was relatively dry. A latecomer appeared and what did they do? They opened a gap in the centre of their group for this wee mite to perch where he/she could get warm. No wonder we loved them!

Then there were the sparrows who nested in the wooded part of the garden.

They were a noisy lot, especially in the early mornings. We slept with an open window and one morning one of them perched on top of the window frame and proceeded to sing the sparrow national anthem!

“Himself” aimed a slipper in his direction but missed, but annoyed at the interruption he/she gave one loud squawk and flew off.

A robin nested in those woods as well. She was quiet, not wanting a predator to find her eggs, but her mate sang joyfully near the nest each morning.

I used to call him “our resident robin” He woke us every morning  for weeks. What a lovely way to start a day.

 

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.

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