Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


Backyard spectacular

I’m so excited by the birds in my backyard. Some come every day, no matter the weather.

“I hope she’s provided a better quality jelly this morning.”

Some only show themselves to me for moments…

“Please note my subtle beauty.”

…in all their finery.

“I know it’s hard not to stare at me.”

And this one has only visited once and luckily I was standing in the window with my camera.

“Do you see me?”

If I could, I’d stand all day long at my windows with the camera.

“I’ll pose for you!”

Pretty amazing.



I’ve told you about this fluffy bit of joy before. But I just have to tell you about my experience this morning.

Even though I stopped filling my bird feeders this spring, due to the bird disease in our state, many of my little birds are still stopping by. I watch them check out where their feeders used to be, or be-bop among the branches of the trees and shrubs we planted just for them.

And lately whenever I go out on the deck one particular chickadee arrives, almost instantly, and looks at me intently.

So I go down the steps to the seed bucket and grab a small handful. By then the little bird is waiting expectantly in the beech tree near the bucket. He won’t come land on my hand, but if I move it toward him he doesn’t fly away. And he will move closer and closer, until he’s on a branch within my reach. Then he carefully leans over and selects a seed from my palm.

From another encounter a few years ago.

Generally he flies to a higher branch and eats it, then flies away. He has never come back for a second helping, though he always makes me smile.

But this morning, as he was hopping down the branches to my hand another fat chickadee landed near the top of the beech tree and started to make a lot of noise while flapping it’s wings. I thought it was admonishing my little guy for getting too close to me.

Still, he reached down low, hanging almost upside down and carefully selected a seed, then flew part way up the tree and cracked it open. And then he flew up next to the noisy chickadee and fed the precious treat to the other bird!

Visiting the birdbath last summer.

By now I was smiling ear to ear as I stood still, hand still out, more treats awaiting. Would he come back?

And he did; almost immediately he bounced back down to the branch near my hand, grabbed another seed, moved up and opened it and then took it to the chirping fat bundle of feathers near the top of the tree.

Then he came down a third time. This time he and his friend (or mate?) took off with the seed, maybe to their new home.

Last fall at Kensington.

I think there’s something right in the world when a tiny little bit of nature can trust us scary humans. I’m still grinning hours later.

I hope you’re smiling too.


Rendezvous with a chickadee

Waking early to another cold morning here in Michigan, Katie and I wandered out to the backyard to fill the feeders. I knew the birds would be hungry. Katie waited up on the deck as I went down to get seed from our metal storage bin.

As I was pouring seed into a flat feeder several yards away a little chickadee dropped down to the rim of the bin, checking to see if there was anything good within reach. I waited quietly for him to decide. Noticing me, he flew up into a nearby tree to wait.

I slowly walked over and he hopped down a few branches. Watching.

I reached into the bin, grabbed a handful of oilers and offered them, hand outstretched, to him. He dropped down a couple more branches. I stood still.

From another encounter. This morning I had no camera and little light.

Closer, closer, he skipped from branch to branch, clearly fixated on the oilers in my hand. Inches away he considered how to get breakfast, but wasn’t quite brave enough to make that last hop.

I moved my hand closer to him. We were at eye level and he looked at me. I looked at him and moved my hand a fraction of an inch closer.

He stretched out and delicately chose an oiler from my palm, then hopped up to a higher branch to enjoy it.

I had a rendezvous with a chickadee this morning, and I liked it.


Stalked by Mr. Red

Now where was I? Ah yes, tramping around chilly Kensington Park one morning last week. I was checking out the herons on a dreary overcast day with spitting snow and drizzling cold rain.

Standing guard on a rainy morning.

And, as you know, I left the herons after a few minutes of attempting to get decent images in the low light and headed into the woods in hopes of finding skunk cabbage, a sure sign of spring here in lower Michigan.

Have a good walk lady! Don’t forget about us over here!

And of course I hoped to spend some time with my little birds too. Those chickadees and titmice and downy woodpeckers and nuthatches that hang around visitors begging for a snack.

A tiny little one waits in line for breakfast.

Since it was early, and the weather was bad I was probably the first person to venture into their woods that day. I knew the birds out on the boardwalk were hungry, they had already told me so. And the little ones back in the woods were ravenous too.

Just showing off my cuteness before I grab a peanut.

As I was being swarmed by a small cloud of birds I heard the sound of a red-bellied woodpecker high up in the trees. As I fed the little ones I watched him watch me.

I see you have breakfast bits. I’d like to place my order, please.

Down, down, down he moved. Slowly, from one tree to another, pretending he wasn’t interested in all the activity. Not interested in those luscious peanuts or succulent woodpecker suet balls in my outstretched hand.

I’ll take some, lady!

He even did a couple fly-overs, as he gaged the risk versus reward, but he couldn’t make himself land on my hand.

That’s OK, more for us if he stays away!

I waited patiently, camera held in one hand, the other outstretched filled with delicacies. Eventually my shoulders ached and I dropped a few treats on the ground and proceeded up the path and around a corner, intent on getting further into the woods.

I’ll sing for you lady, if I get one more treat before you leave!

He immediately dropped to the ground and gathered up his breakfast. I laughed and went on my way.

But just around the corner a new batch of birds waited for their snacks. I spent quite awhile there, photographing them in the branches and on the grasses near by, as they waited patiently for their turn for a treat.

Please notice how beautiful I am.

Then I heard it. The distinctive sound of the red-bellied, and there he was, just out of reach in a tree near my head. Once again I held out my hand, and once again he flew over but couldn’t trust me enough to land. And once again I tossed him a peanut or two and went on my way.

I finished my first course, do you have more?

Further into the woods a nuthatch was chattering loudly, and I stopped to give her a treat.

Don’t listen to him, lady. The rest of us are much more polite.

A bluejay showed up, and darned if that red-bellied wasn’t far behind.

Hey Mr Jay, pay attention, the lady has treats!

Sighing, I moved over a bridge to the other side of a wetland, one of my favorite places to stop and feed the birds. Several littles were waiting for me and you know who followed me over there too.

Hey, don’t forget about me!

As I was leaning over to put some seed on a bench for everyone to share I heard a gobble to my right. And there was a magnificent manly turkey, with his three wives strutting down the path.

Yes, you can admire my stunning colors. Everyone does.

He was so handsome that I pulled the camera away from Mr. Red-belly and focused it on the big boy showing off just feet away from me.

Thank you for giving us the right of way, lady.

Mr. Red-belly wasn’t having it and he dive bombed my head while I was looking toward the turkey. As the turkey harem moved on down the path I left my increasingly rude stalker with a few seeds and moved on in the other direction.

Hmmmm…what looks good this morning?

And that’s the way the rest of my walk went. Wherever I stopped to feed a hungry bird, the red-bellied and increasingly fat bird followed. I finally dropped a whole lot of treats on the ground and got away.

Everyone was hungry.

I think he followed me for at least an hour and more than half a mile. He never came to sit on my hand but he knew he didn’t have to. If he was just persistent he’d get a contactless treat.

Not all woodpeckers are so rude, lady. Thanks for the suet ball!

Though I describe him as a stalker and a pig, I actually smiled each time I’d hear his call. I’d look for him and there he’d be, a tree or two over from me, acting like he was entitled.

Even the deer thought he was a bit pushy.

I guess he was.

As I scurried away I heard a munching sound in the underbrush. What kind of bird was making a sound like that?

I found this all on my own! I don’t need handouts!

Ahh….the infamous little red squirrel bird. He never blinked as I stood and took his picture. This guy didn’t notice me either.

Well, hey. I found my own breakfast too. Those birds asking for handouts give us all a bad name.

Everybody was hungry that morning, and I realized I was too. No one was standing around offering me breakfast, so I decided it was time to head home and find something to eat.

I should probably say thank you, lady.

But wait! I was in the woods looking for skunk cabbage, looking for a sign that spring has indeed come to lower Michigan. Did I find any? Or was I too distracted by the bird drama swarming my head?

Skunk cabbage poking up from the swamp.

Well of course I found it. And it made me smile too.


They’re back!

I’ve heard the herons are back out at Kensington, I’ve even seen pictures on Michigan birding Facebook groups of them flying around repairing and remodeling their nests in preparation for this year’s branchers. (Did you know baby herons were called branchers? Me either, I had to look it up!)

Everybody claims their place in the neighborhood.

This morning, feeling restless, I decided to go out to see even though it was spitting snow and ice cold rain. But the forecast says it’s only going to get worse around here in the next week so I decided to just go this morning.

Bringing in additional building material.

I arrived at the nature center around 7:45, it was dark and dreary and there were no other cars, unusual in my experience. Apparently most photographers knew better than to even try. I worried that there wasn’t enough light for my long lens.

Coming in for a landing.

As I was standing on the boardwalk, struggling to capture the comings and goings at the heron rookery, I heard a very loud cry right next to my right elbow.

Hey lady!!!!

This guy was demanding breakfast. It kind of felt like I was still at home with a certain short fuzzy little girl. I stopped what I was doing and offered him a couple peanuts from my pocket. He eagerly jumped into my hand and scarfed them up.

Hurry up lady, I’m starving over here!

I had been wondering, on my drive to the park, whether the female blackbirds had arrived. And yes they have. At least one has. And she was disgruntled to be out there in the snow, so I gave her a few peanuts too.

What’s with the snow, lady? I expected spring would get here before I did!

I took a few more shots of the herons, vowing to come back some sunny morning, then headed into the woods. I was looking for skunk cabbage, a sure sign that it’s spring around here, even though it’s still snowing.

Nobody every gives me anything.

And of course I’d be visiting with my favorite little birds. I’ll share those with you in the next post.

We and our lady friend will wait right here until you come back, lady.