by Denise Dykstra
I cannot recall a time when I did not like birds. My parents have bird feeders outside the kitchen window and my siblings and I often filled the feeders during the winter months.
My parents have an abundance of hummingbirds that hum around their porches throughout the summer. When I was grown and showing a friend who had watched me grow up around our new home, he went to his woodshop and built me a very large bird feeder. That feeder was put up outside my kitchen window and my love of bird watching began.
We moved into our new home seven years ago, when I set up bird feeders a very short time after moving in. And while I enjoyed bird watching just as I always had, the day the Baltimore Oriole showed up was a game changer.
I knew of the orioles from my parents’ home. I had had one oriole visit at the old house and I had gone to great lengths to lure it to return to my backyard. It did not return.
But when I found the Orioles here in our small town, I realized my new community was the home to a whole community of Baltimore Orioles. I quickly had bowls of grape jelly and cut up oranges anywhere I could think to put them. The raccoons also greatly appreciated my effort at spoiling the orioles and I would find overturned bowls and sticky paw prints all over my porch in the morning.
When my neighbor, Sara DeHaan, across the street moved in, the Birder Life was on.
When Sara found a Baltimore Oriole feeder that perfectly held an Aldi jar of grape jelly, she knew we both needed one. It didn’t take her husband long to realize that Sara and I were attempting to call every bright colored bird into our neighborhood, and he built her a large bird feeder to sit outside their kitchen window.
I bought dehydrated worms to lure new birds to our homes. People, if I am buying dehydrated worms, I have bird fever very badly. Who buys dehydrated worms and gets really excited about them? Me, apparently. I changed the ring tone on my phone to the sound of birds chirping for Sara’s calls and texts.
And did we ever text.
Because our houses are positioned directly across the street from each other, we couldn’t help but begin letting each other know what bird was at our feeder. We could hardly contain our excitement as we watched the Baltimore Orioles fly from house to house, visiting each of our feeders.
My reaction to bright birds is so common the boys don’t even ask what I am up to. They’ll meander into the kitchen for more food. There, they will find their mama, frozen in place, staring out the window. “The Orioles are eating,” I’ll whisper to them. They roll their eyes and head for the fridge.
But, these same boys who mock their mama and her neighbor friend with all our bird watching texts and videos and shushing, these boys are the ones who send me videos of birds from the windows if I am not home. And for any gift giving time, they know the gift that I am going to use immediately and daily is another bird feeder.
While my enjoyment of watching birds has been ongoing throughout my life, it is not something I ever tire of nor plan to move on from. On days when I most need finding some joy, it never fails that I’ll watch the birds eating, spilling and fighting over the birdseed, jelly or sugar water outside my window and my heart will feel buoyed again.
My neighbor, Sara, has Merlin, the free bird documenting app, on her phone. From this app and her large feeder outside her dining room window, their young son can name off six or so birds just from their bird song identification. She also is a talented photographer who takes amazing photos of the birds at her feeder. The bird photos you see in this post are from her.
There is a whole list of speciality bird watching coined words that I have recently learned about. So I have to ask….
• A dude (doesn’t know too much about birds)
• A twitcher (someone obsessed with growing a life long list of birds they have seen)
• Or a birder (somewhere between a twitcher and a dude)
• Or do you not find enjoyment in watching birds (I cannot fathom!)? Share your bird stories with me!