Tuesday, February 16, 2010
A Little Birdy Told Me
This time of year is when our feathered friends can use some extra groceries. The end of of winter is hopefully not too far away, but it will be a long time before natural forage will be renewed. Like so many, I also enjoy helping out my bird friends. The bottom photo in this post features pinecone bird food balls that my sister makes and hangs from their woodshed.
Birds mark our seasons with their departure, their return, their songs, their young, and their change of colors in some instances. We live precisely where the evergreens of the Black Hills stop and the open plains begin. We have pine trees at our back and from here on out I can count the trees. The local bird population is a mix based on this fact. We get an occasional visit from Cedar Waxwings that feast on the juniper down along the creek. My folks have three hanging feeders and it is very busy! The birds here at our 'little house on the prairie' during the winter are ground feeding song sparrows. In the not so distant future, Meadowlarks, Bluebirds and Lark Buntings will return. My spirit soars when I hear the first Meadowlark tell me that Spring is soon to come.
Our bird-feeding 'program' is a little different. The ground feeding habits of our winter birds means that hanging feeders don't work. Our birds feast on the grain that the horses and cattle drop and the seed in the hay we spread out on the large feed-ground at the ranch.The photo at the top is one I took recently when I spotted a pair of Great Horned Owls that were perched in and on top of a run-in shed for cattle. I was so excited!! I love owls and hear them often in the night, but I never get to see them. Very early in the morning when we ride on the ranch, we sometimes spook burrowing owls from their cover in the sagebrush and so you only get a fleeing glimpse of them as well.