Friday, January 4, 2008

My window seat

When we were house shopping 15 years ago, transplanted from upstate New York to southwestern Ohio, we settled upon this old, 1835 brick farmhouse, situated atop a hill in a rural area. It needed a ton of work, as many “historic” homes do, but it offered a unique spot for us, for it snuggles up to a wooded ravine.
Perched between large, old hickories and countless sprouting locusts, we look out over sycamores and redbuds dotting the banks, and down upon a little stream bubbling along in early spring, filled in by summer with bee balm. Almost immediately we began construction on an addition—extending to within 6 feet of the woods’ edge—with lots of glass on 3 sides.
It’s my window on the world.

This morning, a dusting of snow reveals the many tracks of what is usually hidden here—barely visible against the brown, leafy backdrop. Watching, as the morning sun begins to cast long shadows through the trees, I feel as if the curtain is being raised. The stage is lit, the show is about to begin, and I have the best seat in the house.

I’ve done my best in these very cold days, to keep the feeding stations filled. It’s a daily task—and the air still holds the heavy scent of lard, from rendering fat from suet. Muffin tins and cookie sheets are filled with cakes—but think twice before you grab a snack—it’s most likely bird food!

The ground beneath the feeders has been worn bare of snow—scratched by towhees and fox sparrows. But against the snowy woods, silhouettes in the darkness become bright cardinals, purple finches and blue jays—the only spots of color against brown branches.
Three days ago, I looked out to these feeders and found the action frozen in place—the usual flitting of chickadees, titmice, wrens and nuthatches, oddly ceased. There, a few feet away, a sharp-shinned hawk patiently waited for carelessness.

Today, the deer, using the frozen stream bed as their highway from the oakstand in the back woods, have come up toward the feeders to browse the few shriveled leaves of the honeysuckles. Up in the hole of the sycamore, a squirrel peeks out, testing the morning air. A pileated woodpecker hops from tree to tree, spiraling to the bottom of each—then flying methodically to the next. Only the downy, hairy and red-bellied visit the feeders.

Pileated Woodpecker on underside of horizontal branch, 1/4/08

Pileated on dead tree, 1/1/08

I could sit here all day, watching their world from my window.

Birds seen from my window January 1, 2008
Fox Sparrow, Red (pictured)
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
American Goldfinch
House Finch
Purple Finch
Carolina Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Tufted Titmouse
Dark-eyed Junco,
Slate-colored (pictured)
Eastern Towhee
Brown-headed Cowbird
Northern Flicker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker (pictured)
Blue Jay
Mourning Dove (pictured)
European Starling
Sharp-shinned Hawk

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Mungo said...

Great pictures - the deer is amazing. I have a ravine behind my house and saw deer tracks in the snow a couple of days ago. I have posted a link to your blog on mine - hope that's okay.



nina said...

That's fine!
I enjoy so much having a day to stay and watch--I, too, so often just see their tracks, never the animal leaving them!
And to think so much goes on against a backdrop of brown, that it is left unseen entirely.

mon@rch said...

love your little bird prints and the fox sparrow! How cool!

Jennifer said...

Oh... now I have window envy... We have wonderful windows at work, but none of my home windows are all that good for wildlife viewing... plus my house is pretty suburban! Someday...

Weeping Sore said...

Wow! I found you as a link from Crayons blog, and I'm glad I did. Your photos are amazing, as are your observations. Thanks for providing me with a ringside seat next to your window.

T.R. said...

Oh Nina - perfect timing - I've just raved about you in my 7 Random things you've tagged and this post couldn't be more perfect. I got a little carried away - having never been tagged before.

Some days I still wish I was living in Ohio so I could meet you on one side of the state for coffee and JZ on the other. You live in a beautiful world and you honor it so well with your writing!

Bets said...

Thank you for your beautiful blog, I enjoy it often. Best wishes in 2008!

Crayons said...

Thank you! Thank you! From all of your birdie friends. I'm not able to have a birdfeeder where I live. So, I'm just a cheerleader now.

The photos are wonderful. I've become aware this year that winter's bird and animal tracks, not readily available in summer, tell many stories.

kate said...

That is an amazing list of birds seen from your window. No wonder they come to see you - you make great food for them. It is a wonderful thing to be doing.

Mary said...

Nina, how did I miss this entry?

Your list of birds is wonderful. It reflects the home you have created...

Lesley Smitheringale said...

You have a beautiful blog which I have enjoyed visiting immensely. May I add a link on my site to your blog?
Kind regards, Lesley

Anonymous said...

Sorry, ignore the previous website info - this website is theone you want, not the Zude one. Lesley

dguzman said...

Oh how I love to see little birdy footprints in the snow! Great post, Nina.

Stacie said...

I'm in upstate NY! I really love your writing and your photography. That one with all the tracks is awesome!