Bitten by the Backyard Birding Bug

Quarantine has been hard for everyone. And being a stay-at-home mom with a traveling husband has made it extra challenging. So, when we knew my husband had to go out of town for a long trip, we decided that my boys and I needed a new hobby. Something that would be easy to keep up with, easy to do, and would allow us to be amused while staying at home.

Several years ago, my husband had put a large NO stamp on my bird feeders. Mostly because I was really bad at it, I forgot to fill them, and we ended up with seed rotting in the garage, which also brought delightful small white moths. He was not pleased.

But I really wanted to try again. So, we went out and bought a few new feeders, some new food, and a couple of pails with tight lids to keep the seed in. We also put up a nesting box that my best friend’s father made before he passed away. We had some family fun putting out the feeders, adding the mealworms, and then watching excitedly for birds to arrive.

We were not disappointed. In the first days we had cardinals, chickadees, goldfinches, a tufted titmouse, and more sparrows than I can name. And now, I’m pleased to admit, I’m addicted.

A darling couple of black-capped chickadees have made a home in the nesting box. We’ve named them “Mr. and Mrs. Chickadee.” I know—pretty original. But it’s quarantine and our brains are fried on e-learning and toilet paper shopping.

There was quite a bit of drama in the backyard when a couple of house sparrows tried to take over, but thanks to two very invested boys and a squirt gun, we’ve made a full-time job of chasing them off, and the chickadees seem very grateful.

The biggest news of the spring has been the return of our favorite bluebirds. I put up the nesting box in the hopes that they would find a happy home there. Instead, they’ve returned to their favorite spot: the newspaper box attached to our mailbox. They’ve been there for several years in a row, so I’m not sure why I was surprised to see the mama fly out one day when I went walking up to get the mail.  But I was. Surprised. Shocked. I might have even screamed a little.

Still, I was happy to see her. So, upon advice from my birder best friend, I checked the nest for eggs. I could not have been more excited to see five beautiful blue eggs! Scared that they would be injured, my younger son and I made a sign to alert the delivery person to PLEASE not put a newspaper in the box. So far it’s been working, but we check it every couple of days and spend our mornings on the front porch, watching for the mama and delighted to see the daddy perching on the top of the box, keeping an eye on his growing family.

Staying at home is still hard, but our backyard birding has brought this little family joy during these long days.

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