Sunday, March 16, 2008

Spring Weekend

Our record setting snow is quickly melting away. Saturday was a beautiful day that began with breakfast at the Prairie Café with stories from Sylvia and Dottie and their adventures in Ecuador. Afterwards, we went birding at Pheasant Branch Conservancy and found three different adult Great Horned Owls, a Northern Shrike and a few Eastern Bluebirds. Calling overhead, flocks of returning Sandhill Cranes flew in steady formation over the woods – very cool to hear them throughout the morning as we searched for new arrivals along the stream corridor.

Sunday was dedicated to an exercise in genuine laziness. I spent a great deal of time watching and photographing backyard birds from a chair on our patio. During spring migration we welcome new arrivals almost daily. Perhaps a few aren't so welcome, though – Common Grackles have returned. They may seem a little fiendish, but I still admire them and their deep iridescent colors - I just wish they weren't so greedy at the feeder with peanut halves.

Several Red-breasted Nuthatches were busy jamming seeds and peanut bits into bark. Cheery songs of Dark-eyed Juncos seem to be increasing with vibrancy – perhaps only another month left to enjoy them until they return in the fall. American Robins were busy surveying territory, claiming it with full song. I sat there, taking it all in. I wore a wool sweater, but not a coat. I was a little chilled, but not cold. The wind wasn't constant, but more akin to spring gently inhaling and exhaling, as if awakening. Between breaths, the nuthatches and chickadees seemed to be more active. Each installment brought calm, the sun returning my warmth and I could hear every little chirp and chatter of my feathered backyard companions.

"There can be little doubt, I think, but that intercourse with Nature and a knowledge of her ways tends to simplicity of life. We come more and more to see through the follies and vanities of the world and to appreciate the real values. We load ourselves up with so many false burdens, our complex civilization breeds in us so many false or artificial wants, that we become separated from the real sources of our strength and health as by a gulf."

-- John Burroughs The Gospel of Nature

All images © 2008 Mike McDowell

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