Saturday, January 28, 2006

Bird-brained


Yesterday, a pair of bluebirds began building a nest in one of the two boxes on our back privacy fence. That may seem a trivial thing to you, and a waste of precious blog space, but to me it ranks up there with the more traditionally celebrated events in my life.

I have been fascinated by birds my whole life. Sometimes I think I missed my true life's calling--I could have been a very happy, if not prosperous, ornithologist. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of illustrated books on birds. My parents still have some of those books. One in particular, a book on ducks and geese, is probably my earliest book memory.

I'm not a rabid birder, mind you. I have way too many other interests and pursuits that demand my time and energy, so you won't find me on bird-watching outings, binoculars pressed to my eyes and notebook at the ready. But, I have feeders in my backyard and a bird identification book with which I classify my invited guests.

In the spring I put up hummingbird feeders and delight in the antics of nature's helicopters. Where we live is on the edge of the main flyways for bird migration, so we don't get the clouds of hummers at our feeders like my parents in Mississippi do. I have counted as many as 75 of the little buzzers at one time visiting their feeders. It's a banner day at my house if we get 3.

There is something special about bluebirds, though. They don't seem to mind being more public about their nesting than most birds. Being insectivores (for the benefit of you LSU and Mississippi State grads, that word means "bug eaters"), bluebirds are great birds to have around.

Cats like them, too, and I have an ongoing war against the strays in our neighborhood. It is a strong, well-supported insurgency, and I may have to resort to some drastic, undemocratic tactics to prevail.
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