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Don't forget your birds!

Posted Monday, December 14, 2009, at 9:09 AM

These are the two feeders I stock with black-oil sunflower seeds year round for the birds and squirrels. This morning the blue jays have dominion, but those three blurs on the round feeder are goldfinches in their drab winter attire. The two cranes are very economical, as they do little more than pose gracefully all year.
My deck thermometer registered about 22 degrees the morning I started this blog on December 11, but that's warmer than the 17 I saw the day before. Now we're experiencing a heat wave of 48 degrees, but it feels more like 20.

I made the trek outside in my fuzzy hat and houseshoes this morning to put out black oil sunflower seeds for the birds and squirrels. I feel for those little critters in the winter. Anything below 20 is too cold for man or beast.

On the back porch, I plug in the light on the 5-dog doghouse when it's 20 or colder. My husband built the structure on the back porch about 25 years ago. My three dogs jockey for the favored position on the south end, as this is right under the bulb. I don't keep a heat lamp in it -- just a 75-watt bulb - and NOT one of those new dad-blasted useless florescent bulbs that are supposed to be so economical! I hate those things!

In the winter, I may go through a 50-pound bag of sunflower seeds every two weeks, but I consider this a necessary expense, as the wildlife affords me hours of pleasant diversion, much needed in this Post "Digital Switch" Era of no boob tube entertainment.

During the summer, I have brilliant goldfinches, red finches, deep blue indigo buntings, cardinals, yellow-shafted flickers, an occasional red-headed woodpecker, red-bellied woodpeckers, ladder-backed woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, rufus-sided towees, an occasional rose-breasted grosbeck, a rare oriole, an occasional brown thrasher sifting through the leaves, and the pesky, ever-present bluejays. Of course, the chickadees and titmice are here year 'round.

This summer my sister and daughter had the great good fortune to be looking out my bow window, when they saw a pileated woodpecker! Unfortunately, I got to the window too late to see him, hiding on the other side of my big oak tree. I saw one years ago back in the woods behind the house, but those two sightings are the only times I know of.

It's hard to pick a favorite bird, but it's probably the little goldfinches and the wrens. The little wren who lives in the dead petunia plant on my front porch is such a companionable little bird, searching for bugs in the firewood and scolding my son's cat.

Favorite songs - the mockingbird, of course - also the killdeer and the meadowlark, though I haven't heard too many of the latter in recent years. I wonder why?

The finches fill the tree tops with high-pitched tweets that I love to hear. My husband never tired of the whippoorwills and the bob whites in the summer nights.

Occasionally, we see a woodcock, doing his dance in the same place at the bottom of the lane, where water runs through a low spot. One time, my husband and my son Matthew were driving in and saw one dancing to the beat of a Beach Boys song that was playing on the radio. It was a neat moment that I'm sure my son treasures.

From the quiet hills of rural Tillman, Mo., this is your rural reporter Madeline, reminding everyone to remember the birds this winter.

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I also enjoy seeing the variety of birds in the winter. The blue jay seems to be the 'king of the hill' when he's around, so proud and beautiful. I try to leave a little brush pile where my garden was so the birds can seek refuge from the winds and the in town rabbits have a small place to call home and raise their young.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Mon, Dec 14, 2009, at 9:24 PM
Madeline DeJournett's response:
Speaking of brush piles, I guess you notice one out at the edge of the yard in the field. That's still there from the ice storm we got this year! I managed to burn the one in the yard (see black spot), but there's still plenty of them to go around. The birds and squirrels love 'em!

Let's hope I don't get to ADD TO that brush pile in 2010!!


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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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