The Rewards of Running a Bird SanctuaryPosted: March 21, 2022
I started watching the birds which visited my yard about fifteen years ago. My property is densely forested and the early morning chatter in the trees was difficult to ignore, so my gaze would naturally go up to the trees around me, and I was amazed at the number of different types of birds that were dropping by. So, I began to sit out in the yard to write on summer days, and that first summer, I kept a journal of the different birds that I saw,
When winter came around, I bought a bird feeder and some seed. I wasn’t sure how many birds were stick around during the cold months of Colorado winter, but I was pleased to learn that, although many birds migrated south for the winter, birds such as Chickadees, Nuthatches, and Blue Jays were year round residents and the Juncos appeared. When summer roles around, the winter birds clear out and various other species of birds take up summer residence or stop by on their way through.
I even have a group of resident Ravens, originally two pairs until one was taken out by a BB gun by a neighboring child. Now there are only three, but they are always around, and we talk back and forth to each other. (I don’t really speak Raven, but I fake it well.) Watching birds has brought me inspiration, and I have a whole children’s book series, in which the characters are birds and there is a moral lesson to each one, but I haven’t yet been able to publish it for lack of an illustrator. If you’re interested, you can read the story of how I had and lost both illustrator and publisher for the first book in the series, “Heather Hummingbird Makes a New Friend” here.
Little by little, I’ve added feeders and water features, provided habitat conducive to birds and wildlife. I now put out several types of seed feeders as well as suet feeders in the winter, and in the summer I add Hummingbird Feeders, as well as planting a variety of flowers, water features and bird baths in order to create a bird sanctuary. Over the years, I have viewed bird species in the double digit numbers: American Robins, Red Crossbills, Western Bluebirds, Western Tanangers, at least three different types of Hummingbirds, Juncos, Evening Grosbeaks, Cowbirds, Owls, Mountain Doves, Hairy Woodpeckers, Red-Shafted Flickers, I don’t know how many types of Sparrows and Finches, Gray-breasted Blue Jays, Red-tailed Hawks, and even Turkey Vultures. No matter what time of year, the birds who dip into my feeders always appreciate the plentiful bird seed and suet feeders that I put out, and they line up on the tree branches for their turn at the morning baths in the summer.
By this winter, word had gotten out and the bird sanctuary has become a busy place. I put out my Moultrie Digital Game Camera, which is motion activated, for a day and got thousands of photos of birds at one of the feeders. The feeder they are using is a birdbath in warm weather, but I filled it with Sunflower seeds during the cold spell we had recently, and it is obviously quite popular. Among the birds in the photos below are Evening Grosbeaks, Casin’s Finch and several small Sparrows at the feeder.
I get a lot of joy from watching the birds that visit my bird sanctuary. They are so much fun to watch as they wait their turn to grab a bite. Of course, at times they don’t wait. They just jump right in squawking and pecking to get their share whether it’s their turn or not, and mid-air skirmishes are not uncommon. Just the other day I watched as a Gray-breasted Blue Jay swooped in a broke off a very large piece of suet, then he turned to take off with it, making a quick get-away. The piece that he had in beak was so large that it weighed him down and he took an unexpected dive, almost to the ground, before catching himself and swooping off into the trees with his bounty. Blue Jays are known around here to be big bullies, so it was really kind of comical to watch as he struggled due to his own gluttony.
It is true that birds of a feather flock together, as Evening Grosbeaks swarm in on the feeders as a yellow and black mob, temporarily chasing off any little guys and interrupting their meal. The Blue Jays flock in too, but the Grosbeaks are the only ones who won’t back down from them. Juncos gang up on the ground, catching the seed others knock down from above. Birds like Mountain Chickadees, Nuthatches and American Robins, usually visit in smaller family groups, and the bird sanctuary has seen a lot of families raised, but even the Hairy Woodpeckers usually visit in pairs.
It’s been a busy place this winter, but I’m looking forward to the coming of spring and the arrival of a new batch of birds, especially the Hummingbirds, which never fail to keep things buzzing around the bird sanctuary. I always look forward to their spring greetings, as they actually come and say hello, hovering right in front of my face upon arrival as the weather warms. But Hummingbirds are a whole other post. If you’d like to hear about them, comment to let me know, and maybe I’ll write about them later in the year.
Kaye Lynne Booth lives, works, and plays in the mountains of Colorado. With a dual emphasis M.F.A. in Creative Writing, writing is more than a passion. It’s a way of life. She’s a multi-genre author, who finds inspiration from the nature around her, and her love of the old west, and other odd and quirky things which might surprise you. She has short stories featured in the following anthologies: The Collapsar Directive (“If You’re Happy and You Know It”); Relationship Add Vice (“The Devil Made Her Do It”); Nightmareland (“The Haunting in Carol’s Woods”); Whispers of the Past (“The Woman in the Water”); and Spirits of the West (“Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”). Her western, Delilah, her paranormal mystery novella and her short story collection, Last Call, are all available in both digital and print editions.
In her spare time, she keeps up her author’s blog, Writing to be Read, where she posts reflections on her own writing, author interviews and book reviews, along with writing tips and inspirational posts from fellow writers. She’s also the founder of WordCrafter. In addition to creating her own imprint in WordCrafter Press, she offers quality author services, such as editing, social media & book promotion, and online writing courses through WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services. When not writing or editing, she is bird watching, or hiking, or just soaking up some of that Colorado sunshine.
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