Posts Tagged ‘robins’

black-capped chickadee

black-capped chickadee

dark-eyed junco

dark-eyed junco

Steller's jay

Steller’s jay

varied thrush

varied thrush

It’s that time of year again: the Great Backyard Bird Count! I’ve been putting out extra goodies for the birds and faithfully counting–or trying to count–each feathered friend that drops by. It’s as much a challenge as ever to get an exact count of juncos that blend into the winter ground and chickadees that flit in and out, so that I can’t tell if the one at the feeder now is a new bird or the one I just counted. The big birds are easy–the jays, flickers, varied thrushes. But those little gray and brown guys–whew! And then there are the “missing in action”–the birds I know are around somewhere, but that won’t come by to be counted. The cute little bushtits haven’t dropped in yet. One downy woodpecker visited the suet feeder today, but the hairy woodpecker hasn’t been by. I only have robins because I took a walk and saw them down the street.

There’s still one more day left, so if you want to take part, throw out some birdseed and see who shows up. It really is great fun watching the birds interact as they gobble down the food–some of them are real characters. Give it a try! And here are some of the ones I saw today, filmed through the window, so please excuse the blurriness.

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Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge


Time is our most precious commodity. It slips away so quickly, whether we are busy working or playing. We want more of it, but few of us know how much we really have. And when we receive an unexpected abundance, we tend to waste it—at least I know I do.Dogwood







Yet there are days when time seems to stand still. I look at the blue sky and hear the robin singing in the dogwood tree, the chickadees chittering away near the bird feeder. I feel the gentle breeze on my face. I smell the sweet scent of the pinks that grew from starts given me by a former neighbor, now passed on to eternity.


PinksEternity seems only a thin veil away as I walk through the green woods or stand on a cliff, surveying the forest below, the mountains in the distance. I feel God’s breath on me as I drink in the beauty. And I wonder: if this is a fallen world, what must heaven be like? Heaven, when time will no longer matter.Trillium Lake

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It’s that time of year again, time for the Great Backyard Bird Count. I love this bird count, because I can do it from the comfort of my home, just counting the birds that come to my feeders. Of course, if the weather is nice, I will also venture outside in search of birds that don’t usually visit my feeder–perhaps the pair of doves I sometimes hear cooing from nearby trees or the red-tailed hawk that circles overhead or the flock of robins that wanders the neighborhood this time of year.

I return to the window whenever I get a chance, keeping my checklist handy so I can record any new visitors. I replenish the feeders when they run low, so the birds keep coming. Then at the end of the day–or end of the weekend–I visit the Great Backyard Bird Count site and enter my data. Having fun and contributing to science: what a nice combination!

So, anyone else in?


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View from my window

Restless, I sit in front of my computer, reading essay after essay, assigning what I determine to be the correct score. Working. Outside my window, thin white clouds slide across the pale winter blue sky. In front of them a cedar stands tall and green, and stretching maple branches form shapely patterns against the blue and white. The icy East wind has died down. A junco swoops past, into the holly tree, white outer tail feathers flashing. Two robins land in the maple. I squirm in my chair and stretch my legs.

 Shadows lengthen. Darkness will fall before my shift ends and I am free to leave my computer for the day. But I still have one break remaining. I pull on a warm coat and step outside to fill the bird feeder. The air chills my face, and I have to break a thin layer of ice on the bird bath. By the time I get back inside and hang up my coat, a golden-crowned sparrow, a song sparrow, and two spotted towhees are pecking at seeds I tossed on the ground, soon joined by a black-capped chickadee at the feeder and another song sparrow on the ground. My offering is appreciated. Refreshed, I return to my work. Only an hour to go!

(written in December, 2009)

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Winter Robins

Robins in January? What’s going on here?

 As I drove down my little dead end street yesterday, a flock of robins flew past, some landing in nearby trees to rest or search for food. It felt strange to see robins in early January. In fact they have been around for some time, so it appears that these robins, perhaps come in from farther north, will be staying around for the winter. How odd.

 I remember years ago when robins would disappear in late fall, to be replaced by varied thrushes—those robin-like birds with a big dark V on their breasts. Varied thrushes arrived with the juncos, our most populous winter visitor, moving in to fill the vacuum left by the robins’ departure. Then, sometime in February or early March, the first robin would reappear, and we would know that spring was close at hand.

National Park Service photo

 About ten years ago, I started noticing that the robins were arriving earlier. The date moved up to early February, and then even to January. And varied thrushes seemed to become less common. Something was changing, but I didn’t know why. And now winter has arrived and we still have robins, and I have yet to see a varied thrush (although there is still time, of course). Something has definitely changed.

 Is it climate change? This article believes so. I tend to think it may be. And I wonder what the ramifications are. Change may be good, bad or, more frequently, a complex mix of both. I suppose only time will tell.

 Have you noticed any changes in wildlife patterns in your area over the years?

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I talked with my sister-in-law recently. She has been working part-time for a year or two now, unemployed for over a year before that. She has learned to live on very little, so much less than what I would consider the bare essentials. And it makes me wonder: what is sufficient to live on? How many of my so-called needs are really not needs at all?

 A robin needs only a nest, food, and perhaps a puddle to bathe in. My cat is content with food, water, and a warm place to curl up, preferably my lap. She would also like a bit of my turkey sandwich and a taste of my ice cream, so I suppose she is not as satisfied as the robin in the holly tree. But her tastes are definitely simpler than mine. Do I really need a television, stereo, computer, closet full of clothes, and half a dozen flavors of ice cream? I probably don’t need all those shelves of books either, but I can’t imagine parting with them. I’d get rid of the television and half my clothes before the books. But that’s just me.

 Paul said, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12) He didn’t say it was better to be poor. The secret is to be content however life finds you. I don’t have to give up my books and my computer, but I do need to hold onto them loosely. They must not be too important in my life. If my possessions take too much of my attention or time, I probably need to get rid of some. Maybe even a few books. And I do need to share with those in need, when I find myself living in plenty. Because I know the blessings I have are more than sufficient.

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