Here on the New Meadows, we’re often entertained by the many winged creatures who visit the marsh and surrounding waterways. To be honest, I never dreamed I would become such a birdwatcher. As a teenager, I recall my parents sitting at the picture window in the kitchen with their coffee, oohing and aahing over the birds fluttering beyond the kitchen’s picture window. I also recall thinking how they should “go get a life.”
Now I think of my parents often as I enjoy all the avian antics that go on throughout the course of the day in my neighborhood, wishing they were here to share the “bird’s-eye view” from my sun porch. Dad would especially enjoy watching the father red-wing blackbirds swoop back and forth over the marsh while the mothers tend to the clutches of young hidden among the cattails.
On this wet morning, four pairs of cardinals are twittering back and forth between the clothesline and the honeysuckle bush, a hideout they particularly like. Scores of goldfinches flutter near the full thistle feeders my neighbor provides. I don’t know what a morning would be like without their sweet, uplifting song and sunny flash of color. Mourning doves tip-toe through the raised beds, and I can’t help but wonder what they find there that holds their attention for so long. Two mallards waddle across my lawn on their way between marsh and river.
One of my best surprises so far this season has been a visit from a pair of woodcocks, which I’d never seen up close and personal before. They strutted around the yard just before sunset on one particularly pretty evening, seeking out earthworms with their long bills. Observing them so closely through my bedroom window was even more exciting than the morning the maple tree out front was decorated with a flock of Eastern bluebirds taking a brief respite from their travels.
I always delight in seeing the osprey glide over the marsh. There are at least five nests within walking distance from my home and I keep a close eye on them, feeling such strong emotion when I see the babies’ heads peek out to look at me as I walk by. Nearly every morning I also have the pleasure of seeing blue heron, and occasionally a snowy white heron makes a showing. He holds perfectly still, assuming I won’t notice him as long as he doesn’t flinch.
When I mow the lawn, I’m careful to give the front hedges a wide berth so as not to disturb the brown sparrows nesting there. They also like to build a little home of twigs in the wreath I’ve hung, making entrance through the front door inaccessible. That’s OK, since we don’t use our front doors much here in Maine anyway.
When my daughter Shannon prepared to leave after a visit last evening, she lingered in her car, watching the finches and cardinals as they gathered seeds before a long night’s rest. I stood in the doorway, smiling as I watched her watching the birds. Why are we, as humans, so entranced with these fluttery, feathery friends? Is it their movement through the air, their bright hues, their softness, their simplicity, their freedom?
Shannon saw me there and called out, “Mom, you’re so lucky.” Long after she had driven away, I stood there in the doorway gazing at the little birds flitter against the pearly pink sky, meditating on that old Gospel hymn, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” I know I’m so much more than lucky. I am blessed.
Karen Schneider is a freelance writer living in West Bath. She may be reached by e-mail at [email protected]


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