Birds were one of the big draws of the lake. Red-winged blackbirds were our harbinger of spring. Their beauty can’t be denied in the wild—even if they do swagger.
By the time summer arrived in earnest, there were almost too many birds to list. Yellow warblers lived in a thicket on our lot and we enjoyed their unusual flight patterns, flitting back and forth somewhat like a butterfly—or a yellow leaf floating in the breeze.
Goldfinches flew in straight lines, whizzing by like an arrow or bullet. They lived in Mud Lake, on the other side of the road, but we still heard them sing.
Nuthatches walked down a tree-trunk upside down.
Chickadees stayed all year.
Neighbors didn’t want woodpeckers because they might destroy property by pecking on it. All the same, we reveled in the bird’s cunning. Of the several varieties, the pileated woodpecker was most spectacular. We spotted a male through our windows—he hid on the other side of the trees when we were outdoors.
Loons were Ken’s favorite. Their haunting call brings magic to a summer’s eve. A mother loon carries her babies on her back—barely above the water level.
We had large birds, too. Pelicans circles above the center of the lake, looking for dinner.
A Great Horned Own visited just once.
Bald eagles nested nearby. Solitary adults floated by looking for sustenance, but once a group of three nestlings surveyed the area as a group before embarking on their independent life.
A great blue heron occasionally rested on our dock, usually leaving large droppings. We discouraged Canadian Geese because their droppings weren’t an easy clean on the dock but a messy pile in the grass.
Seagulls were a constant.
But the small birds our elicited our smiles. One summer a pair of bluebirds nested nearby. The male sat on our deck railing for almost five minutes one sunny afternoon. A pair of Orioles graced us with their presence our last summer at the lake. We didn’t see them often, but a brilliant orange blur streaking across the yard was good for an adrenalin rush. I’ve wondered if they came back again.
Moving to town—into a condo in an area of new construction—meant bird-withdrawal. Our only birds the first summer were some sort of swallow, unwelcome although still attractive. I understood the rationale, but I briefly mourned when our fellow condo-dwellers sprayed water to remove the nests from our building.
The next summer we noticed partridges. Well, we initially called them quails and then prairie chickens, both of which do not fit the pictures in the bird book. They're a prairie bird, hard to spot unless moving, but they know how to run—like a toddler with a new-found skill. They fly only at low elevations.
Last year a rather large bird swooped toward my husband on the deck and bumped into the wall. When it fell stunned to the floor, Ken identified it as some sort of falcon. We decided to call an authority in the morning. At 7:15 a.m. the bird was huddling in the corner. By 8:00 a.m . it was gone.
We’ve been here five years now. Trees are getting larger and grass is established. Last summer, a few robins discovered us. This summer I hear them singing much of the day. The enjoyment they bring is immense.
They sing their song:
Don’t despair. It’s going to be okay. God is in control.