Enjoying spring’s aviary adventures

Amish farm by Bruce Stambaugh
A typical springtime scene in the heart of Ohio’s Amish country near Mt. Hope, OH.

By Bruce Stambaugh

We are fortunate to live where we do here in northern Ohio, especially in the Holmes County area. Our manicured farmlands, brushy fencerows, dense woodlots, numerous lakes and the wetlands of the Killbuck Valley provide an abundant variety of habitats that attract an equal abundance and variety of birds.

In our busyness, we should stop, look and listen to the free show that is all around us. The many birds, some just passing through, others that will make their summer home here, can fill our senses with amazing music, incredible color, and entertaining activity. No admission charge is needed.

A Canada Goose and a lone gosling glide in the marshy Killbuck Valley north of Millersburg, OH.

Even before sunrise, the chorus of songbirds begins to warm up like a pre-concert symphony. Usually the American Robins are first to welcome the new dawn with their varying songs. Soon others like the Northern Cardinals and Song Sparrows join in. By first light, a cacophony of warbling fills the morning air. Everyday brings a new chorus.

Once the morning brightens, the birds mix a paint palette of colors into the recital. Now at their height of intensity for procreation purposes, the colors of the birds are positively stunning. Their appointed markings are a pleasure to behold.

White-crowned Sparrow by Bruce Stambaugh
A White-crowned Sparrow stopped for fuel on its way north.
The male White-crowned Sparrow, with its alternating bold black and white stripes atop its head, could serve as a referee amid all the commotion and scramble for seeds at the backyard feeders. Instead, it is intent on fueling up for its long flight deep into the Canadian northlands.

Pairs of Cardinals forage for their breakfast of cracked corn and oil sunflower seeds. Like two teenagers in love, the bright red male feeds his adoring but duller mate in their courting ritual.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak by Bruce Stambaugh
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are regular visitors to backyard feeders.
Without hesitation, the impressive Rose-breasted Grosbeak sallies onto the feeder hanging only inches from the kitchen window. Even in a brief glimpse it is easy to see how this bird got its name, its rosy breastplate all too obvious. The female, on the other hand, is awash in rich creams and browns, all for protection against hungry predators.

Baltimore Oriole by Bruce Stambaugh
A female Baltimore Oriole enjoys frequent visits to the bird grape jelly feeder.
The Baltimore and Orchard Orioles enjoy quick snatches of a grape jelly concoction housed in upside down bottle caps on the porch railing. A couple of quick gulps and they are gone, but never far away. Their liquid warbling says they’ll be back later for more.

The regal Red-headed Woodpeckers command attention from humans and aviary audiences alike. Without being bossy, they clear the feeders all to themselves. No doubt their brilliant red, white and black attire and their size have a lot to do with that.

Red-headed Woodpecker by Bruce Stambaugh
A male Red-headed Woodpecker visits the peanut butter suet feeder several times per day.

The Red-bellied Woodpeckers are bolder, both in sound and behavior, their iridescent red head stripes as flashy as strobe lights on patrol cars. Their noisy chatter serves as a warning siren announcing their arrival.

Even the little Black-capped Chickadees come dressed for the dinner party. Their tuxedo-like coloration is fresh and ready for the spring prom. They zip back and forth from tree branch to feeder, neatly holding the seed with their feet, while their tiny beak chisels for the main course, the sunflower heart.

Chipping Sparrow by Bruce Stambaugh
Even the little Chipping Sparrow is a joy to observe.

One hates to turn away from the aviary activity to see what might be passing overhead. An American Eagle, a Great Blue Heron, flocks of Mallards? It’s springtime in Ohio. All options are open in this intermingled habitat.

It is amazing what we can observe, especially when our feathered friends enter our life space. We just need to stop, look and listen.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2012

Author: Bruce Stambaugh

Writer, marketer, columnist, author, photographer, birder, walker, hiker, husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, township trustee, converted Anabaptist, community activist, my life is crammed with all things people and nature and wonder. My late father gave me this penchant for giving and getting the most out of life, my late mother the courtesy, kindness, and creativity to see the joy in life. They both taught me to cherish the people I am with. I try and fail and try again.

4 thoughts on “Enjoying spring’s aviary adventures”

  1. i so enjoy your postings, I was born in Millersburg, raised in Lakeville.
    Moved to Texas in 1975, but still call Holmes County home. Since retiring I visit family and friends every year 4-6 weeks, Reading your articles helps me feel close to my childhood home.


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