Our backyard birdfeeders get lots of visitors in the winter. Tufted titmice, Carolina chickadees, Carolina wrens (which we've called Jenny wrens ever since we read the Burgess Bird Book), and northern cardinals are our most frequent guests. Song sparrows, house finches, mourning doves, and yellow-rumped warblers show up quite a bit, while dark-eyed juncos hop along the ground just under the feeders, gleaning. Downy woodpeckers and red-bellied woodpeckers enjoy the suet. And in later winter, goldfinches will flock around our niger seed feeder.
Early last week, on one of the many drizzly, dreary days we've had, a flash of bright blue caught my eye. I called the girls to the window and we watched four eastern bluebirds take turns with the suet. Three males and one female. Since then we've seen them every day, as many as five at a time several times per day.
I can see the feeders from the window above my kitchen sink and my study picture window, so I have plenty of opportunities to observe my favorite bird species. The leafless trees in our backyard are the perfect backdrop to their purple-blue plumage. Often two males will perch on swaying branches just near the feeders whiletwo or three others nibble at the suet. Sometimes one or two will glean on the ground beneath the feeders, or snatch up suet pieces that fall on top of the baffle.
This morning, I watched for a few precious seconds as a male bluebird and a male cardinal perched on the edges of our tray feeder. I quickly alterted Miss Priss, who was eating her breakfast at the table. She managed to catch a glimpse before they flew away. What a glorious sight!
Sightings of bluebirds are particular precious to me because I know the birds won't stay around for long. A woman at a bird feeder store told me that if I'd put up a bluebird house, they would stay and raise a brood. But our wooded backyard is not conducive to bluebird houses; they have strong opinions about house placement!
So I'll enjoy them while I can. I'll stop whatever I'm doing to note their dark periwinkle feathers that perfectly complement their burnt range breasts. I'll admire the lovely blue-gray coloring of the females, their buff breasts, and their bright black eyes.
I love all the birds that we see. I adore goldfinches and am always glad to play host for them on their travels.The cedar waxwings that descend upon us, strip our holly tree of berries in a day or so, and then disappear -- their very transience mark them as extra special. In fact, we've actually missed their visits in prior winters! And I'm always excited to see something new.
Still, the Eastern bluebird holds my heart.