What a beaurtiful winter morning! The sun is brilliant, the sky clear, the snow sparking. As I sit here, warmed by our little Vermont Stove, the dog snores and absorbs heat from the stove. Our black cat sits on a pillow and watches the birds at the feeder.
Right now there is a pair of Downy Woodpeckers at the suet. Each day the Hairy Woodpeckers, and both White Breasted and tiny Red Breasted nut hatches enjoy suet. In winter the ever present Chic-a-dees feast on sunflowers and safflowers. On a really lucky day, a Pileated wood pecker pays us a visit. We also have had flickers, redbellied, and red headed woodpeckers come to call. Last year, we were thrilled to see a pair of cardinals in our back yard. And this year, a Varied Thrush and a Brewer's Blackbird have captured our attention. Soon the cute litte Red Polls will be arriving, then Robins, and Goldfinches in full color to impress their ladies.
Bill just put out peanuts for the Blue Jays, and in about 90 seconds they are helping themselves. Their feeder is on the deck rail, about 8 feet from where I work at my computer, so I get a really good view. Believe it or not, they have personalities! One seems more intelligetn than the others as he swoops in, chooses a peanut then drops it into the snow below then takes another and soars up into a tree. He will return when the they have eaten all in the feeder and from the railing cock his head and search the ground, then retieve the peanet he cached. Another big male will pick up a peanut and throw his head back, taking the peanut deeply into his throat, leaving room in his beak for another to fit crosswise. Then away he goes, into a tall spruce. Another Jay seems particular about which peanut to select, taking one then putting it back and doing this four or five times until the perfect peanut is found. Some birds are aggressive and dive bomb others to drive them away, and some line up on the rail and wait for a vacant spot before helping themselves.
Our older son once said to me, "We grew up in the perfect place." It is true. When grandchildren come from California, they are fascinated by the variety of birds they see here. During summer, we will see birds that have not stayed for winter: gross beaks, hummingbirds, catbirds, yellowbellied sap-suckers (not our friends as they have destroyed two trees), varieties of finches and wrens too numerous to count, and in the fullness of summer, a Baltimore Oriole arrives and from the top of an old oak, he sings out his joy at life in North Dakota! He, too, seems to think this is "the perfect place."