Have you noticed it? The birds are singing a lot more in recent weeks. And growing their mating plumage too. Yes, love is in the air — and quite literally when talking about birds. It reminds me of one of my favorite lines from “The Big Chill”, when Jeff Goldblum’s character says, “I’m almost certain there’s sex going on on this house.” And I’m pretty sure there’s some of that happening in the woods around our house too. I had hoped to put up some nest boxes this year, but I’d better get busy before it’s too late.
I was surprised to see red-winged blackbirds at our feeders several times this week. They’re not typically feeder birds here, so it was fun to see them. And today we were visited by a flock of a dozen or so wild turkeys (photo below); I’ve read that some turkeys migrate and some don’t, so I can’t be sure if these guys just flew in, or if they’ve been here all winter keeping warm back in the woods somewhere. But it’s always fun to see them.
And speaking of migration, Eric and I have signed up for the Biggest Week in American Birding, held May 5-15 just east of Toledo, Ohio. This is when northbound birds pile up on the south shore of Lake Erie before making the trek across to Canada. We’ll only be spending two or three days there, to dip our toes into the experience of group birding to see if we like it. We’ll be taking a couple classes with the amazing Kenn Kaufman too, so that’s really exciting. I just finished reading The Big Year, in which there are a couple mentions of Kenn’s “Big Year” back in 1973. He was only 18 years old, and hitchhiked around North America spending only $1,000 and eating cat food (ick). He ended the year with 666 birds on his list, and some awesome stories to boot. His book about the adventure, Kingbird Highway, is next on my reading list. (In case you haven’t heard yet, The Big Year will be released as a movie later this year, starring Owen Wilson, Jack Black, and lots of other big stars. That should be fun; but as always, read the book before seeing the movie!)
I’m so thankful for the increased bird activity these days. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you probably remember that I’m prone to getting depressed in the late winter every year. These unexpected bird sightings really help get me through the last rough parts of “the dark season”; I get motivated to read and write about them, and eventually to get out of the house and go search for more of them. So the birds are a much-needed sign of hope for me when nothing else really seems to work. Even on the days when I isolate myself from friends and lose interest in other things, the birds and other animals in our yard are there for me. As long as the birds keep coming, I’ll make it through, one day at a time.