Tuesday, June 19, 2007

PRESIDENT'S CORNER: Birdwatcher Since 1997

By Norris McDonald. I became a birdwatcher in 1997 after moving to Highland Beach in Annapolis, Maryland. The house had a creek and lake in the back and the Chesapeake Bay in the front. Not only did I have free crabs all summer from the traps in the back, I also had a bird sanctuary. Herons, Red- Wing Black Birds, Egrits and more. Just watching the herons do their thing was fascinating, not to mention the excruciating noise they make when startled at night. This also reminds me of the racoon that could open my trash can no matter how I secured it. I also had two Swans in winter that adopted the lake. I believe they were Mute Swans, targeted for extinction by state agencies that saw them as a danger to submerged vegetation. Sometimes I would canoe, kayak or paddle boat (all in the basement) out to greet them in the lake.

Now I am in the sterile suburbs. I hate the sterile suburbs. But there are birds everywhere, even at National Harbor where love-eagles George and Martha lived their dramatic lives. Eagles are plentiful along the Potomac River. My backyard has once again become a bird sanctuary. I have a United Nations of birds back there now that I put up a bird feeder and started a vegetable and rock garden. I hung the bird feeder from the mulberry tree. All manner of birds feed during the month-long berry season of the tree. I even saw a squirrel climb down the rope to get to the bird seed.

I keep the grass (organically weeded) in the front and back yards low so the birds can walk and feed. Robins, Red Birds (Cardinals), Blue Jays, all types of Black birds (the birds are more integrated than the community), Starlings, Grackles, and more. The feeder has Wagner's Finches Delux and boy does it work. Their claim of attracting finches and other smaller songbirds is accurate. I get a plethora of small perching birds. The colors are awesome. Warblers, blue birds, bunting, and sparrows, among others. When my work gets crazy I can go back to the rock garden and sit on a tree stump and watch the birds eat the worms from the rings I make with a pitchfork around the rocks. Very relaxing. So please world. Send me to my bird sanctuary often.

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