Bird Crazy

I love birds, don’t you?

Back in Western New York, I live on five wooded acres, complete with a creek that ran all the way to the Genesee River. It was a gateway for nature, and my world was filled with birds. I liked to sit on my back deck and watch them fishing for their supper in the creek: Blue Herons, Kingfishers, even an occasional owl. I bought a bird book to help me identify some of the gorgeous, colorful birds I was seeing. I put up nest boxes and had the joy of watching dozens of clutches of bluebirds hatch and fledge.

When I moved out of state and bought a little cottage in town, I really missed my birds. I put up feeders and filled them with good quality seed. I soon had cardinals and finches and bluejays, but how I missed the cedar waxwings and the indigo buntings and the bluebirds.

After a couple of years I started to really notice the robins building nests in my apple tree. I noticed the wrens with their delightful, trilling songs. I noticed the graceful flights of tree swallows as they danced through the sky as if with fairy wings. I bought a handmade birdhouse at a flee market and planted a little garden spot.



To my utter amazement, it attracted a blue bird!


Unfortunately, she abandoned it after the first hard rain, so I knew my flee market find must have structural issues! Last week I bought a cute bluebird house. I took down the flee market bird house and put up the new one.


We had an unexpected April snowfall in the night, and this morning I looked out to see that this little tree swallow had staked a claim! Not a bluebird, but still, I hope she’ll stay. I’m learning to appreciate even the common, everyday birds, and I’m looking forward to a good season of birding, no matter what kind of bird babies they are!



The blue birds have been busily scoping out next year’s digs!

I can hardly wait for next year’s nesting season 🙂

Baby Love

Back in April, a house sparrow got inside my blue bird house and killed all four baby blue birds. The site of those poor, defenseless, featherless babies was one of the saddest things I have encountered to date.

When the blue birds returned, a few weeks later, and began to build a new nest, I was both hopeful and dismayed. For weeks, I have worried and fretted over the blue bird babies as if they were my own children. I have stood at the window, obsessing, binoculars in hand, and watched the process every step of the way with no small amount of pride and delight. The nest building. The egg laying, and within the last three weeks, the feeding.

When the first egg had been laid, I put up a sparrow spooker to keep those heartless competitors away from “my” nest box. When I saw them nearby, I ran outside to shoo them away. Knowing I could not guard the birdhouse 24:7, I prayed to God for the baby blue birds’ safekeeping. Morning and evening I stood beneath the bird house, my heart thrilling to the unmistakable sound of their peeping.

Each summer I have the task of painting the deck on the back of my house and since it was a bright, sunny morning, today seemed a good day to start. But first, I went out front to make my rounds. I noticed Mama blue bird acting peculiarly. She sat on a telephone wire above, letting me know in no uncertain terms that my presence wasn’t welcome. I cautiously approached the bird house and there, in the shade of the weeping crab tree, I discovered my pay day. The first fledgling had left the nest! I grabbed my camera, snapped this photo, and then left mother alone to show her baby the ropes.

The first fledgling

Throughout the morning I couldn’t resist peeking into the front yard to see what they were up to. The baby seemed content to sit in the sun, occasionally ruffling his feathers as Mama stood guard. Around noon, with the deck painting well underway, I decided to take a break. After lunch, I went out to the front yard to check on baby’s progress and discovered he was gone. I immediately began to fret, thinking of all the possible scenarios. I thought of slithery snakes, and hungry stray cats on the prowl. Had he somehow gotten into the road? Had some evil hawk come along and carried him away? I did a thorough check of the yard, looking under every bush and shrub. Not finding him anywhere, I sent up a last prayer for his safekeeping and went out back to finish my deck.

Sweet surprise!

Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Cross My Heart

I’ve known for quite some time that I was going to have to replace the old bird house. The wood is rotting. The roof is leaky. The floor is weather-beaten to the point that the whole house pitches precariously to the left. Still … I couldn’t bear the thought of taking it down.

This old house

I received this lovingly handcrafted bird house as a birthday gift several years ago. When I bought my country home, seven years ago, I put it up in the front yard, thinking it would make a wonderful decoration. Little did I know the joy the house would bring me as it sat on its post year after year, lending shelter to countless families of blue birds. Replacing it was going to take something mighty special.

 Last Sunday I happened off the beaten path to Wallace, NY where I came across a shop called Cross My Heart. I really didn’t have time to stop. I was on my way to Bath, where I was supposed to meet someone at 4:00. From Wallace, that would be a ten minute drive and it was already 3:45. But when I saw the charming display of bird houses out front, I simply couldn’t resist. Five minutes, I told myself. Just a peek and then I’ll be on my way. Sometimes you find the most wonderful treasures in the most unlikely places, and with Cross My Heart, that was definitely the case. My five minutes were up before I even made it through the front door!

Outside Cross My Heart

The sign out front says 100 Bird houses and that is surely an understatement. The shop is chock-full of handmade birdhouses of every kind. There were houses for wrens and for blue birds, for chickadees and for purple martins. Some were large homes, and some, apartment sized. Some were hand painted with quilt pieces, and some adorned with whimsical antiques, such as door knobs and old fashioned faucets. But all are hand crafted, and all made with love by the owner, Diane Rivers. One thing is for certain, no bird is left behind at Cross My Heart!

Inside Cross My Heart

Diane greeted me with a smile when I walked in. As I browsed, we chatted about birdhouses and shared our birding experiences and I discovered a kindred spirit in this lovely, knowledgeable lady. With so many choices and so little time, I left empty handed. That time. But today I returned and selected a treasure of my own. The card attached to it said: “I do like this horrible ugly tongue-in-groove that was a door stored in the upstairs of K. Teters’ barn, Bath, NY. The roof is from a 200 year-old barn in Atlanta, NY.”

Crafted with love

This fall, when the last of the blue bird babies have flown away, I will finally take down the old house and replace it with the new one, which is not only a blue bird house, but a piece of local history. It will be a place where new families are nurtured, and new memories made. And that’s something I can definitely feel good about!