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I usually prefer to post photos of birds in their natural habitat, but this weekend marked the beginning of the annual Feeder Watch program that is run by the Cornel University Lab of Ornithology. That means every week from now til April, I and thousands more people like me throughout the US and Canada will be watching and documenting the numbers and types of birds that come to our back yard feeders each day. Each week we submit our data to the lab where they will interpret the results to use for a variety of purposes. For over twenty five years Cornel University has been following winter migration patterns of birds of every kind. The fun part of their research is that they use ordinary people like myself to gather and submit data on the birds that frequent our yards. Each year those of us who participate and contribute to the research receives a quarterly publication chock full of information on birds, how to identify them, what the research reveals about climate change and irruptions (when brids fly far out of their normal migratory patterns, which usually suggests a shortage in food supply forcing birds to search outside their normal range.) Besides feeling like I am doing a little something to contribute to scientific research, I have found bird watching to be a mindful practice that calms me and helps me focus on the present moment. When watching birds, especially when I’m concentrating on identifying and counting them during my scheduled “watch” sessions, I forget about the cares that weigh me down. Birds are beautiful warblers and hooters and screechers, and if one watches over a period of time–a season–one begins to recognize personalities of individual birds as well as characteristics of the diffierent species. If you are interested in bird watching, or if you have young children who may be interested in birding activities, google Cornel University Lab of Ornithology to find the many programs they offer. Also check out to help identify birds. This is a fun hobby, one I have enjoyed for a few years now. I am grateful for the Cornel University Lab of Ornithology and how their feederwatch program has helped me develop a deeper enjoyment and understanding of birds.


Sizing up the distance to the dangling bird food above.


He begins his ascent.


He meets with the impenetrable obstacle!


Not to fear! He knows where the accessible food is!


Hmmm…. Never encountered a bird at the bird feeder before.


He must check this out.


Looks like there is plenty of room for both, so he goes for it.


*&^%$ Mourning Doves! He’ll give the dangling bird food another shot.

As you may have realized, I chose to step away from a regular blogging routine while I finish up my last year (grueling year) of school. Despite my absence from this page however, I find reasons to express gratitude every day. A couple of days ago I saw this squirrel scampering about looking for food. He provided my husband and me with a good fifteen minutes of humor, so much so that we laughed till the tears flowed. A little humor does so much to lift our spirits, especially during these cold winter days. I am grateful for humor, especially the natural, unexpected humor that shows up when we least expect it! Enjoy!


Yes, deer are a nuisance, especially if one has spent time and money to plant veggies and herbs (and flowers) but they are beautiful animals none the less. A couple of days ago (on a rare occasion when I did not have my camera handy) a doe and two spotted fawn (twins!) ambled through our yard. To date we have had a large variety of birds, squirrels, chipmunks, cat and deer visit this place. Last night Richard saw what he thinks is a possum scamper up our driveway. And of course, there are the ubiquitous rabbits who have a burrow somewhere along the back of the property. The animals don’t bother me. In fact I get immense pleasure watching their antics. Of course my gardening is relegated to pots on the deck (actually, pots lined up on the cover of the old, broken down jacuzzi that will be towed away by the end of the summer . . . I hope.) At any rate, I caught this deer last night as the sun was low in the western sky. Beautiful creature. I am grateful for the variety of wildlife that enjoys our yard.

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