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It's for the birds

Published March 15. 2014 09:00AM

One of my favorite movies is "Field of Dreams."

It's not because of baseball and not because of Kevin Costner, though that doesn't hurt.

No, it's because of the famous phrase by the deep-voiced James Earl Jones.

"If you build it, they will come."

The "it" in the case of the Gougers is bird feeders and "they" are songbirds of every variety.

My mother introduced me to birdwatching. When she died in 1991, I inherited all her bird books, including my favorite, "A Golden Guide to Field Identification Birds of North America."

I've continued the tradition because it reminds me of my mom, and frankly because I'm hooked.

I often can't pull myself away from the window.

When we moved last summer we weren't sure what to expect in the way of winged visitors, but we knew we sure had squirrels.

So off we went for a squirrel-proof feeder which closes when a squirrel applies weight to the perch. Seemed like it should work.

The first time we hung it too low. The squirrels could sit on the railing of the deck and reach their little mitts into the feeder to pull out the food.

We got a taller pole and moved the feeder higher.

The squirrels moved, too on to the suet feeder.

These clever critters, rodents really, wrap their tales around the deck rungs to hang upside down and chew on the suet.

And it didn't take them long to scale the feeder pole and hang upside down from the shepherd's hook to poke their noses into the feeder.

Then they invited all their friends.

Luckily, there's enough for everyone.

They come on schedule. Juncos, known as snow birds, arrive at dawn. Sometimes they fly in and other times they walk up the steps to the deck.

Next are the titmice, quickly followed by the black-capped chickadees.

Everyone flees when the squirrels make their first pass at the feeders.

That leaves the suet station open for the woodpeckers. The downys come first. They land on the corner spindle and peek their heads around to see if it's safe to partake. One rung at a time, they move over to the suet.

The red-bellied woodpecker is next, in all his splendor. Sometimes the hairy woodpecker couple drops by.

Finches, nuthatches and a Carolina wren all take a turn or two.

In the distance we can occasionally see a pileated woodpecker pecking away at a hollow tree.

On a recent Sunday a hawk landed in the tree just beyond our property. I pulled out the binoculars and bird book and tried to identify it.

I could tell it was large, and it had some white on its breast, but I just couldn't get a good look.

I ran to the bathroom window for a better angle. I think it looked right at me.

My husband thought it could be an owl because it stayed in one position for almost four hours. I argued that the shape wasn't right.

When it flew away just before dusk I wasn't any closer to an identification, though I had peered at it for hours.

I glance in that direction whenever I walk by the patio door.

But one day he'll return and I'll be ready for him.

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