For as long as I can remember, my family has put out food for birds from the Fall through the Winter and into early Spring. Summer bird feeding isn’t really necessary here in Nova Scotia, and there are now diseases present that spread rapidly by birds congregating at feeders in the summer. The cold weather limits the spread of the problem, and so during colder weather we can more safely put out the feeders that we humans enjoy as much as the birds.
Within minutes of me putting up our feeders, two tube feeders and two suet feeders, I had chickadees and blue jays in abundance excitedly taking turns at the stations. By later that afternoon, we’d had our first sightings of the cardinals that live in our woods – and who came out into the yard to gather scattered seed under the feeders. My wife Norma and I went for a walk a little later on, and on the way back, as we came down the driveway, our dog Finn, a Brittany Spaniel, threw a point and we saw a beautiful pheasant fly back into the woodlot, having obviously been drawn out into the yard by the prospect of a handout.
We all love watching the birds, and I take every chance I get to photograph them. Norma’s Dad used to love identifying the birds. We had a poster taped to the inside of the old wooden cupboard that was beside the kitchen window. He’d spot a sparrow and open the cabinet and declare “Look, a Song Sparrow”. Our grandson, Theo, is picking up the habit and knows quite a few birds by name and many by vocalization. Bringing the birds close, and helping them out during the cold weather, is a fun and very integral part of our life now on our property here in southern Nova Scotia. Just as it had been in the Annapolis Valley as a teen and in Massachusetts as a kid. Learning about the wildlife around us, even if as seen in the slightly modified behaviour evident at a feeder, is a rewarding part of being a conservationist.
It’s part of why I love all seasons.