It’s a bittersweet feeling, coming home after being away.
On one hand, it feels good to be back to the familiar and routine. But there’s also a wistfulness for the adventures that have come to pass.
Happily, we picked up a souvenir on our trip across Texas that has kept the vacation magic going a little while longer: a backyard bird feeder.
We picked it up at a bird store we happened upon in Waco, Texas. Erol, the shopkeeper, is a man who explains his wares and services in the same excited tone as a boy explaining everything that’s awesome about his favorite video game. Erol is from Turkey, which has a nice bird synchronicity to it. We left the shop with a feeder and two kinds of seed, which Erol assured us would attract the birds but not the squirrels.
We set it up as soon as we got home. Almost immediately birds came to the feeder.
First were the blue jays, cardinals, and mockingbirds. We see these regularly on our walks around the lake, but they weren’t known to alight in our backyard for any length of time.
Then came the house sparrows and chickadees. I didn’t even know we had chickadees in our area!
There are two doves who stop by, and a small gray bird with a smush of yellow on her bottom. My sister finally identified it as a yellow-rumped warbler, also known as butter-butt. I appreciate it when third-graders get to name the birds.
A backyard feeder is great for practicing birding skills. I’m paying more attention to bird songs and behaviors, to the shapes of the wings and beaks, and to the precise locations of the bands of color.
It’s a modest aspiration, to observe a few birds well.
I confess, though, that even when I’m blissfully minding the birds, I feel pangs of greed. I want to see more birds at the feeder, and birds that are more special.
I also suffer from envy. My Facebook friends post pictures of their fancy backyard guests–owls and orioles, vermilion flycatchers, and indigo buntings–gathering on snowy feeders or flower-laden trees.
These pangs are fleeting. They’ll pass on if I can be still for just a while. If I just look at the feeder, and then a little beyond, past the back gate, over the water, and up into the sky, there is an amazing menagerie of birdlife, right in my back yard.
It’s lovely to come home.
Backyard bird list, Sunday, January 24, 2021 (with a few links are to articles that helped me identify and appreciate these birds:)