A few weeks ago I put out a bee house. I erected the small, wood structure on the south side of my home on a support column underneath the roof overhang. I'll admit that I had my doubts about whether or not bees would actually find it, much less use it, but lo and behold, the "Bee Our Guest" tower bee house has attracted the attention of a small nondescript species of native bee known as mason bees.
The blackbird family, Icteridae, includes 23 species in eight genera. Among this group are cowbirds, several species of blackbirds, grackles, orioles, meadowlarks, and bobolinks. And though I enjoy observing and listening to all of them, I've a special connection with bobolinks.
While sitting on my deck enjoying the final rays of the setting sun on the last evening of spring 2018, a bird flew into the young green ash trees that grow next to the deck. Given that the trees' limbs are thick with foliage, I couldn't make out what the bird was at first.
Most wild birds will allow us to approach them reasonably close. I'm reminded of this each morning that I feed the birds. It's not uncommon to observe chickadees landing near my hand or sometime even on my hand. Hummingbirds, too, what with their insatiable appetites, will frequently be buzzing around me even as I fill and hang their feeders.
My 4-year-old grandson, Lincoln, and I planted an apple tree in the backyard recently. I chose a sunny area on the backside of the house near a couple of large bur oak trees and other assorted trees and shrubs. About 10 feet high on one of the stately oaks is a wood duck house that has remained in remarkably good condition despite it being 16 years old already.
I've never met a soul that disliked wild birds. And while some folks admittedly favor certain species of birds over others for various reasons, by and large most everyone enjoys observing wild birds. Moreover, the vast majority of wild bird enthusiasts are "bird friendly" and will take modest to extraordinary measures in attracting wild birds to their properties and backyard bird feeding stations.
What one can witness while spending time in the great outdoors is endlessly fulfilling, rewarding, and, quite often, surprising. Take for example a recent early, sunny morning experience that I enjoyed as I sat inside my blind while turkey hunting in late April. Overlooking a farm field, I had set up my blind alongside the field against the backdrop of a plantation of young red pine and spruce. The field was surrounded by outstanding wildlife habitat that included a forest brimming with the sound of drumming ruffed grouse everywhere.
Springtime is the best time, and if ever there were creatures that invoke the spirit and renewal of spring, it's frogs and toads. These fascinating and delightful animals reappear each season in a predictable and fairly sequential order, depending upon the particular species and local environmental conditions.
It's that time of year again, folks. Bears and birds and bird feeders! Indeed, now that many of us are starting to think about putting out the hummingbird and oriole feeders and are enjoying the return of other birds to our backyard bird feeders, chances are good that if you live in bear country then Mr. Bruin might come for a visit, too.
For the past 16 years I have been talking about purchasing a purple martin house and promptly installing it on top of a tall pole that I would also purchase. I'd then raise the whole kit and kaboodle adjacent to the little lake behind my house, Lake Assawa, and enjoy a colony of purple martins for years to come. Easier said than done, as they say. But at last during the final days of last winter when thoughts of spring began occupying my thoughts more and more, I finally acted upon my veiled threat of hoisting a purple martin house high in the sky.