Back­yard Bless­ings

Cheer­ful car­di­nals, chick­adees and Carolina wrens lift my spir­its on a snowy spring day.

Country - - CONTENTS - BY DEB­BIE KAIMAN TILLINGHAST

The bite of win­ter lingers on this March day, but see­ing my feath­ered neigh­bors out­side cheers me up. I sa­vor my cof­fee in the warmth of a south-fac­ing win­dow while they gob­ble the seed and suet treats.

To­day’s snow has brought a flurry of ac­tiv­ity, and I am cap­ti­vated by the birds’ quirky per­son­al­i­ties. An up­side-down din­ing nuthatch ar­rives first, and he spreads the word, “Break­fast is ready!”

Soon at least 50 birds are vy­ing for a spot, like din­ers with a punch card they can’t wait to fill.

The cast changes through­out the day. At noon a flock of goldfinches comes to snack on the this­tle seed, while bril­liant red car­di­nals pre­fer tran­quil, late af­ter­noon din­ing. Chick­adees and tit­mice stay all day, sam­pling ev­ery feeder, afraid they might miss a tasty morsel.

Two tiny chip­munk birds share a block of suet. They’re lively lit­tle fel­lows with red­dish brown backs and white stripes over their black eyes. Al­though the bird books call them Carolina wrens, I think they look like feath­ered chip­munks.

Most of my vis­i­tors are con­tent shar­ing—they oc­ca­sion­ally flut­ter and fluff at each other but then set­tle down and eat peace­fully.

This har­mony is only dis­rupted by the rau­cous blue jays that be­have like cranky chil­dren who don’t want any­one else to play with the toys, even though there are enough for every­one.

The bleak day speeds by as I re­turn to my cozy spot, de­lighted by the out­door en­ter­tain­ment. As the light be­gins to fade, I ven­ture out to re­stock the buf­fet. Two chick­adees stay for a talk; perched near my head they chat­ter, as if to ask, “Where have you been?”

When the feed­ers are full, their tone changes: “Chick-a-dee-deedee,” which I trans­late as, “Thank you for the yummy food!”

Car­di­nals and an up­side-down nuthatch (left) are among Deb­bie’s fre­quent vis­i­tors.

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