The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Birds Confirm Their Need for Bathing on a Wintry Day



Yesterday morning was about 15 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the coldest all winter. I added water to the bird baths, but that froze right away. I put out cracked corn and the feeding began.

Later I took out more water, since the sun was shining brightly and the temperature was going up.

Soon the birds were splashing in all four baths at once. That is always hilarious in winter, because the birds all want to enjoy cleaning themselves and having fun. They push and shove and get in line again, just like too many kids with too little room in the swimming pool.

I keep one feeder just outside the bedroom window, which worked so well in Bella Vista. We could see purple finches, chickadees, and starlings stopping for some sunflower seeds. When cold nights are still threatening, bird feeding and bathing are both active.

The full moon rises today and the rest of the week will be 50 to 60 degrees in the afternoon.

When the birds feed, they do not just look for the food I put in various places. They walk around the yard looking for more, which is the bonus given when birds eat and bathe in one location. They are slow to trust anything new, but once their habits are established, they return to look.

Birds have diversities of gifts, not unlike the gifts of the Spirit. Instead of one species dominating a yard and eating only its favorite food, birds will establish territory for their species only and get along with the rest. Male cardinals will eat together until it is time to mate and establish a nest. Then one pair will enjoy a territory and drive off other cardinals.

The effect is to have a nest of each species in the yard - a line up of various birds at the feeders and baths. Of course, we draw from all over because this is an official Jackson Bird Spa, with all the amenities, from mulch and trashy plants to gourmet food and multiple baths. When the hummingbird vines and flowers are established, we will see them share in the bounty. They will enjoy the spritzing water from the aerial aqueduct, since hummers like to move in and out of spray to get their baths.

Flocking birds are a little different. Common sparrows and starlings arrive in a flock, feed, and go somewhere for shelter. In New Ulm we had a flock of sparrows come out of the Boston ivy together and feed on the flat roof, where bird seed tended to get wet and rot. A cold winter decimated the flock and I missed their garbage pickup duties. They always kept the roof clean.

Starling Murmuration



Starlings have enormous flocks here, so one evening at a Reformation picnic, we watched a better show than fireworks - starling murmurations, gigantic patterns in the sky from thousands of starlings forming and changing geometric shapes in their coordinated flight.

Controlling 100 jets from an aircraft carrier is a big job. Who can coordinate thousands of birds at once? That is why I do not engage the evolutionists in long debates. No one can answer that one question, apart from the Creator.

I want the starlings to feed on suet and seed, because they return for bugs and weed seeds. They do not drive out other species. We see in our yard:

  • Blue jays
  • Mourning doves
  • Rock doves
  • Sparrows
  • Cardinals
  • Purple finches
  • Chickadees.

The robin, harbinger of spring, is already active n Springdale.
Art by Norma Boeckler.