By Diane Lockspeiser
It looked like the leaf was hopping. “Just being blown by the wind,” I thought. But the hopping looked too oddly even, and so I looked closer. Well camouflaged among the brown leaves and chunky dark gravel hopped a tiny Wren, carrying a leaf. I wondered if they were going to do something with that leaf besides using it to enhance their camouflage. Three more Wrens fluttered through the trees around our house. The odd thing was that it was late December and Wrens are bug-eaters, not usually seen around here in Winter. They didn’t stay for long, so maybe they were just passing through.
On Christmas Day, I watched five Mourning Doves (no, not two Turtle Doves!) circling and dipping around my dormant vegetable garden in an oval formation. It was so beautiful to watch! Being primarily seed-eaters, it was not as unusual for them to be here, but still not usual, and they soon moved on as well.
Meanwhile, the domesticated birds otherwise known as Chickens were resisting going to roost in the evenings. They were just like children not wanting to go to bed—just one more drink of water, one more snack, a hen-pecking squabble or two (or three or four). I finally solved the problem accidentally. I was late getting out there Done night and couldn’t find my usual flashlight, so I grabbed a little penlight that was lying on the table. It turned out that it gives just enough light for me to guide the strays to roost without them getting distracted by food, water, or other Hens.
I always know when there’s a Red Squirrel around because they seem to have a liking for storing pinecones in odd places. I find them tucked into corners, stacked onto abandoned birds’ nests, and in big piles near trees in the yard. Since the pinecones from the Norway Spruce are bigger than the Squirrels themselves, it’s amusing to watch them carrying their prizes up into the tree. They manage! Now that Winter’s deep freeze has settled in, I’m sure they’re hunkered down in a cozy nest somewhere with lots of snacks, just like the rest of us who stay here through the cold.~