Columbia Memorial Health (1) Careers

THROUGH THE WOODS: The rain stops and the sun shines

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Celebrate the rain; it only means that the sun shall shine bigger and brighter than ever.”—Anonymous

IT WAS JUST 45 DEGREES TODAY, with rain in the morning and finally a glorious yellow sun to end the afternoon. The yard was still wet and sparkling, with sun shining on the greening lawn. The flowers are blooming with spring beauty. The last of the snow is gone and all life rejoiced. The deer and turkeys are eating out back in the field. The woodchuck eyed the tender yard grass. The rain brought up the earthworms for the red breasted robins. They have been hopping around and singing everywhere.

In the front yard the poor birds cleaned up all their seed and suet. It is amazing that they recognize me as their food provider. The chickadees arrive first and sit on the empty feeders and chirp at me, to shame me for not going out in the rain this morning to do refills. So far, fingers crossed, the bear seems to have moved on. Most of the cracked corn is scattered on the ground and old feeders are the only ones left out, just in case. The chickadees made such a racket that the other birds, squirrels, and chipmunks knew that the feast was out for them. I went into the house and watched. Three crows were scarfing up the corn on the ground while one stood guard up in a nearby tree. I often wonder how they decide who eats and who doesn’t? Do they take turns? Since they look alike it is difficult to tell which is which when they fly up and return. When they left, the blue jays came in for their share of the corn. The crows had been quiet as they ate, while the half dozen jays were a quarreling, raucous bunch. They sounded like they were double that number. Soon they were stuffed and flew away.

Woodchuck in the sun. Photo by Nancy Jane Kern

Enter the gray squirrels that scampered around for choice pieces of corn. The shyer birds like the red-bellied woodpeckers landed on the central white pine tree. This tree offers good shelter for the yard and a staging area to gain confidence to fly to the feeders at the house. The good stuff is located there. A large metal feeder full of sunflower chips is the favored dining area, and some think the peanut butter suet is even better.

The branches of the yard trees give birds a place to wait their turn. Some are more patient than others, and some are small and sneaky, like wrens. The little chickadees are feisty and quickly swoop down, snatch a seed and fly off. The tactic of the flock of many small yellow goldfinches is to flood the whole feeder to the point where other birds have no place to get in. If a squirrel attempts to eat at the feeder, then it wins, and the birds fly off until it leaves. Squirrels are very persistent and downright nasty to each other and everyone else. All the yard squirrels, red or gray, are fat, healthy and fluffy. I keep waiting for the larger hawks or coyotes to grab a few to keep the numbers down. Many birds and animals came out into the sun and got a happy meal.

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