For the Birds

It’s spring, and love is busting out all over in my backyard.  Not for me.  For the birds.

My backyard was made for bird courtship.  It’s small but  closed in by big trees.  The splash of a waterfall (which came with the property and convinced me to buy the place) draws birds from all over the neighborhood.  So does the birdbath, and  the feeders, which I hang out and fill with seed.  My two cats are indoor pets, so except for the occasional neighbor kitty or hawk, it’s a pretty safe place to hang out.

Mourning doves are the most romantic.  Sweet, graceful and quiet, they do these little courtly dances, turning and bowing as if they were hearing a minuet.  Even their mating is discretely elegant, like part of the dance.

 

 

Quail, on the other hand, are like people in a rowdy singles bar.  They show up in gangs, the beautiful males prancing, parading and fighting; the females taking their sweet time to choose their partners.  Often as not, there’s a rowdy scramble and then the whole show begins again.  Somehow they manage to pair off and make babies, which show up a few weeks later—tiny fluff balls trailing after their parents.  Sadly, with so many dangers, no more than a few of them survive to grow up.

Chickadees nest in a birdhouse with a hole so small that bigger birds can’t get in.  I love it when the tiny, spunky babies finally pop out.

But not all

my birds come for romance.  Some just show up for a handout.  The scrub jays, smart and cocky, sit on a tree limb outside my patio door and call until I toss them a handful of peanuts, which they hide all over the yard.  Magpies have picked up the same trick—but their beaks are big enough to pick up two or three peanuts at a time.

Now and then I’ll get a woodpecker, and warmer weather brings hummingbirds.  But my least welcome yard guests are the starlings.  Pretty birds, but noisy, and they poop on everything.  When I get a growing family, the half-grown babies will follow the mother around the yard, squawking constantly to be fed.  It’s comical to watch, but not to hear.

I like to use birds in my books, partly because of what they symbolize—beauty, freedom and also danger and death.  I have a soft spot for vultures—great for foreshadowing.  They’re also beautiful flyers, as well as being nature’s clean-up crew.

How about you?  Do you enjoy birds?  Do you feed them?  Do you have a favorite?

This has nothing to do with birds, but I wanted to give you the first peek at my July Harlequin Desire book.  You”ll hear more about it as the release date draws closer.

What do you suppose that little boy is thinking?

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I'm an internationally published romance author, coming up on 40 novels and novellas. Most of my stories have been Westerns for Harlequin Historicals, but I set stories in other times and places as well. I'll also be writing contemporary stories for Harlequin Desire, with the first release in January 2013. You can learn more on my web site.

16 thoughts on “For the Birds”

  1. Good morning. I hope the weather is treating you kindly today. I just looked out the window and saw April snow. Hoping it will melt and not freeze my flowers.
    Looking forward to your comments today.
    Hugs to all.
    Elizabeth

  2. I have a lot of birds in my yard. Mostly mourning doves which I love. But I also have a lot of robins and barn swallows who come back to their same nest every year. The only birds I truly don’t like are black crows. They’re rude and hateful birds and they hog all the seed I put out.

    Congrats on your upcoming release!!! I love that cover. Wishing you much success, Filly sister!

  3. Love the birds year round… we have doves, pigeons, quail, humming birds, noisy woodpeckers, different blackbirds, sparrows, and right now a few cardinals have been stopping by. They know to visit my yard, because they get goodies.

  4. Hi Elizabeth. I used to have a finch feeder and I loved watching those bright yellow birds come in and eat. They also liked to squabble and that was entertaining.
    Then we moved.
    There just was no window that was right for a bird feeder. The south side of the house is cut away so the ground is on the level with our basement, which is no where we hang out at.
    So no bird feeder SHOWS, at least not close-up. And it turns out I only really cared about being entertained, not one speck about the birds.
    Because I never fed them again. Shame on me!!!

  5. My sister and brother-in-law (he’s a realy outdoor guy, hunting but also he loves nature and he works for the state game and parks department so he really knows his stuff.
    He’s created a bird santuary in he back yard. He’s really knowledgeable about what plants and bird seed attract birds and it’s not unusual to sit in my sisters gazebo and just see DOZENS of birds, all different species.
    It’s really a beautiful, pleasant place to be.

  6. Colleen, you must live in a pretty place. I envy you the cardinals. We don’t have them here in Utah. The only time I’ve seen them is years ago when I spend some time in Ohio. They are SO beautiful!

  7. You know, Mary, I think that under most conditions the birds do just fine if we don’t feed them. So feeding them for entertainment is just fine. I get tiny goldfinches on my dried flowers in the winter. Love them.

    And I envy your brother’s place. That’s sort of what I try to do with mine but I never have time to really work on it. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. I do enjoy birds, my favorite is the red bird which is our state bird. I use to feed them but keep drawing a lot of starlines or black birds in so I quit feeding them.

  9. I’ve just glimpsed those red birds, Quilt Lady. The color is so amazing.
    Our Utah state bird is the California Gull. They like to hang out wherever there’s food, like the parks and the landfill. They’re so bold they’ll snatch food from kids’ hands. And that story about their saving the pioneers’ crops from the crickets is pretty much that–a story. Oh, well, at least they look pretty when they fly.
    Thanks for dropping by today.

  10. Hi Elizabeth, I love birds. I love the Anna’s hummies who like to snack at our hummingbird feeder. Right now I have a love-hate relationship with the blackbirds that “caw” “caw” “caw”. But I took some cool pictures of them and used them as decor in my bathroom LOL. I wanted something unexpected, and I think that’s it!

    Lovely pictures! Enjoyed the post. xox

  11. Blackbird photos in your bathroom? Now that I’d like to see, Tanya. You are so creative!
    Why is it that the birds with the most annoying voices are the noisiest?

  12. Would love to spend a morning with you and see all the birds, Elizabeth. It sounds lovely. We have a lot of birds too, being between a creek and a lake with forest area, but not as many as you!

    I haven’t read a blog in weeks, but I was attracted to yours right off. Love to you.

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