The bird watch continues at the bird buffet. In fact, the most common lunchtime discussions revolve around the birds spotted and heard at St. Anthony’s. JustBob and Jackie H. seem to be the resident experts on all things avian, but Tracy is learning to recognize the birds visually but by sound as well.

Tracy discovered that the arbor vitae tree off the corner of the Residents’ Community Room is really just a condominium for juncos. They likely decided it was conveniently located relative to the bird buffet, as they enjoy searching the grass for the seeds the other birds (and those pesky squirrels) cast down from the feeders.

A pair of cardinals have become frequent evening visitors and seem to prefer the lamp feeder. Usually the male arrives first, then calls to his mate and she swoops in to join him for dinner.

A variety of woodpeckers also visit the buffet regularly. There are several downy and hairy woodpeckers, at least one red-headed woodpecker, and occasionally a pileated woodpecker. They generally prefer one of the suet feeders, but also enjoy the thistle seed. While Tracy waits for his hummingbirds to return, he is also keeping an eye out for an oriole.

The personalities of these feathered friends can be rather interesting, too. Some are quite camera shy, only feeding on the side of the feeders away from the observation bench.  Others are a bit bolder and have no problem expressing themselves

Marge was on the bench near the buffet at mid-day Wednesday, quietly observing the woodpeckers and juncos that were visiting. As soon as she spoke to Tracy (who was up on the Residents’ deck), the red-headed woodpecker flew off. He sat in one of the maple trees by the cloister wall and rather strenuously voiced his disapproval of her presence several times. Then as soon as she got up and walked away, Tracy watched as the woodpecker returned to finish his lunch.

Not all our birds frequent the buffet, though. Tracy finally spotted his elusive robin two weeks ago in the front yard. The hawks seem to prefer to hang out on the west side or around the back of the building. Cathy J. was working in the garden Wednesday and spotted two eagles doing a mating dance in the skies over St. Anthony’s, and Thursday Marge spotted another eagle soaring over the labyrinth.

Birds may seem like insignificant creatures in the big scheme of things. But think of all that we would miss if we had to live without hearing their joyful songs, without seeing the variety of colors in their plumage, without watching their graceful flight, or without pondering how they can zoom into a feeder and come to a full stop in the blink of an eye without hurting themselves.

For all the birds, and for the beauty, wonder and delight they bring to our eyes, our ears and our world, we say Deo Gratias!