Today was the first chance I’ve had this season to sit on my front porch and quietly observe the yard. I can’t sit on the back deck like this because all I see are weeds that need pulling, plants that need watering, feeders that need filling, a fountain that could use cleaning, a plant that might do better in a different spot…you get the idea. But, the front yard – that’s like being on vacation.
My front and back yards attract different kinds of birds. There is a little bit more lawn and fewer trees out back, but it doesn’t seem a substantially different habitat to me. Although I just told you how different they are for me! I’m reminded of the line, “If you build it, they will come.” Over the decade that I’ve lived here, I’ve planted hundreds of native flowers, bushes, trees and grasses. I’ve seen firsthand the effects of this change on the wildlife in my yard. I love that I’ve been able to create an natural oasis in suburbia.
Today, I sat on the love seat on the covered porch with my coffee, the Sunday newspaper, binoculars, my camera and my assistant. More than an hour would pass before I’d even touch the newspaper again.
The house wrens are singing and chattering non-stop. In past years, they’ve nested in a traditional birdhouse, but this year they’re in my handmade gourd house in a bur oak. They’ve built a dummy nest in the old box (i.e., jammed it full of sticks so no one else will use it). Last summer I watched them bring caterpillar after caterpillar to their nest. When they’re feeding, there’s not this kind of time for singing, so I think they are on eggs.
I added a bluebird nest box a few weeks ago. A pair of bluebirds that I’d seen hanging out across the street claimed it surprisingly fast. She is sitting on five eggs.
It turns out the nest sits over prime earthworm hunting grounds, as evidenced by the pair of robins that are busily bringing worms to a nest full of gaping mouths.
The robin’s nest is in a crabapple tree next to the garage, driveway and front walk. Before today, I didn’t know it was there. Apparently, the robins aren’t bothered by all of the human and dog activity. They may be sharing this tree with another pair of birds. It sure looks like someone is in this gourd house, but I haven’t seen any indication of who.
Just below the crabapple in a new garden bed I planted last fall, Bridger alerted me to a song sparrow’s nest. It sits just one foot off the ground in a privet slated for removal. (That project is now on hold). I’d seen the song sparrows around this hedge before and thought maybe that’s who had nested in the gourd.
A pair of cedar waxwings fly in, stop in the twiggy elm and leave before I can get a clear picture. They are a rare visitor. A catbird, who lives on the other side of the pond out back (one of the few birds that seems to frequent the front and back yards equally), makes repeated laps around the house, grabbing bugs and flying off.
A downy woodpecker and a white-breasted nuthatch each take a run up the trunk of the elm tree. I only see the nuthatches in the winter at the backyard feeders, so it’s surprising to see one here in June. The goldfinches have started their squeaking, from where I am not sure. They are definitely backyard birds. I begin to pick up the newspaper when a green heron flies over. I put the paper back down to sit quietly, just watching and listening for a bit longer. Oh, to start each day this way!
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