It's a rainy, gray Saturday morning in spring. Our previously planned trip to the local park is canceled - wet bottoms and mud pies just don't seem that appealing today when we were longing for shorts and sunshine.
Yet, despite the initial disappointment, my 8-year-old daughter picks up her spirits quicker than I do. She spends at least an hour marveling at the birds out of our family room windows. They flit and flutter from tree to tree and back and forth to the two bird feeders we have hanging from hawthorn trees.
Little wrens, chickadees and nuthatches are always present, hopping next to the slower, fatter, cooing doves. Then, in a bright red streak, the cardinal flies in, going from the trees straight to the ground, picking up the seed the other smaller birds have discarded.
Then the blue jays dive in, squawking to chase the other birds away and briefly getting their fill.
The wrens and the blue birds fight over who gets the solitary bird house we have in the back. But the blue birds always lose this fight and stake their claim instead on our two 'Prairifire' crabapple trees, closer to the family room windows. They know that in the fall and winter, these trees will provide plenty of treats to munch on. Though the robins seem to have caught on as well. And no one seems to mind the hummingbirds stopping at the fuchsia crabapple and lavender lilac blooms for a quick sip.
Our spruces make excellent apartment complexes for the cardinals and robins who enjoy nesting in their dense foliage.
When it comes to taking a dip, the finches and wrens like the bird bath, but the robins seem to use it the most. Although on a day like today we notice that the birds seem content with a more natural option, bathing in the small pools formed by the rain.
And the crows and blackbirds hang out high in the ash and maple trees, watching the show below.
All of these birds fascinate my daughter like we're watching a children's cartoon. The blue birds with their powdery cerulean blue feathers and peach colored bellies. And the robins who hop around the lawn pecking for worms and then fly to the tree to get a better view of their next available meal.
The most impressive in color and activity are the woodpeckers with their bright red heads, white bellies and black wings. They enjoy taking seeds from the feeder to the nearby hawthorn trees and using nooks and crannies to lodge the seeds in and then peck them open to expose the treats inside.
Who needs TV when you have this sitcom happening in your backyard? We did it almost accidentally, but I think we made the best decision to mix these various trees to create the perfect haven for birds. It all started with the trees. And I'll never forget these moments of fascination my daughter had, particularly concerning the crabapple trees - year-round entertainment for kids … and adults.
Speaking of trees that are special, Davey is debuting "If Trees Could Talk" on National Arbor Day, April 30, to collect stories to illustrate these connections trees have in our lives. Check back Friday to read stories and share your own individual tree tale.
"Think you're a big fan of trees? We'd love to hear about it. Send your thoughts to Dave or Daphne at firstname.lastname@example.org ."