Bring on the birds
Mother nature is about to dazzle us again, with another beautiful display of flora and fauna. And for those of us who are bird lovers, ‘tis the season to watch and wonder.
Our feeders have been teaming with finches the past few days, and turkeys have been lurking below the feeders, several times a day.
We are fortunate that our home is on a wild turkey trade route, so we see them massing in the morning, courting during the daytime and heading up our mountain to roost at dusk.
The turkey mating game is indeed a sight to behold, with the males posturing, puffing up and fanning out their tail feathers — while the nearby hens seem completely uninterested. It reminds of high school.
Soon — and very soon — we will be seeing our favorite seasonal guests — the hummingbirds.
Did you know? — April 15 is usually the date the hummers return to our area — both the migratory Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and the boxy-behemoth, military-inspired versions of the SUV.
If you want to attract the tiny, darting hummers, it’s time to get feeders outside in plain sight. If you want to attract the larger, gas-guzzling hummers, just set out a real estate sign.
Here I go, digressing again.
Hummingbirds are my wife’s favorite summer pastime. She dutifully brews her special recipe of nectar, cleans and refills our feeders and delights at each and every hummingbird sighting.
She had feeders out with fresh nectar April 1, which she hopes the hummingbird scouts will find inviting and bring word back to the other hummers. Last night, as we relaxed on the deck enjoying the 70-plus degree weather, she gave an impromptu shout-out, “Oh, hummingbirds!”
Yes, she calls out to them almost nightly this time of year, and many times in the past, one or more hummingbirds have come in response.
Another — Did you know? — You can track the migration of the hummingbirds on the Web at www.hummingbirds.net. The map indicates sightings in WNC as early as April 1 — No fooling!
This sighting has been corroborated by Leon Russell — not the longhaired, long bearded singer/songwriter, but the co-owner of Pleasant Places, 36 N. Main St. in downtown Waynesville. One of his customers reported seeing a hummer April 1.
By the way, Pleasant Place is my go-to place for all birding supplies. The Russells carry the full line of quality Droll Yankee and Brome birdfeeders along with a wide variety of Coles birdseed blends.
I'm fond of their many squirrel-proof birdfeeders that provide an exhilarating, Disney-like wild ride for our furry rodent friends. These feeders add additional entertainment value to deck sitting.
This season Pleasant Places has more bird, pet and garden supplies than ever, including birdbaths. Stop by and tell Leon I sent you.
Oh yes, I have one more special request for you — avoid trimming trees this time of year. My friend and life-long birder, Martha McDermott of Canton, tells me, “Right now trees are loaded with owl and woodpecker nests. Please respect their natural habitat.”
And speaking of natural habitat, the photo for this column celebrates a deceased cherry tree that has been given ‘new life’ by neighbors, Anthony and Joanne Roesch, who converted it to a bird condo.
Their tree-trimmer (and ours) Pastor Tim Reeves, owner of True Vine Tree Trimming, is responsible for both the idea and the handiwork. The Roesches collected the bird houses, and it's a work of art.