A positive horde of birds has descending on the yard and the trees between the yard and the road.

I don’t know that I’ve adequately described Kevin’s place. ("Our place," he’s usually quick to interject at this point.) There’s a long driveway that leads up to the cul-de-sac. It’s a small housing development, one of those generic dreadful developments plopped into a chunk of rural area, and most of it is just plain grass, plain house kind lots. The end, however, is set well back into the trees, and Kevin’s is one of these. The woods begin at the cul-de-sac and the house is set in a lot carved out of a much larger chunk of forest, at the end of a driveway maybe sixty, seventy feet long. During winter, you can see the road and the neighbor’s houses clearly, but once everything fills in in spring, it’s very isolated.

The wooded area between us and the cul-de-sac holds a drainage ditch, and is mostly long-leaf pine, some redbud and dogwood and little junk oaks.  (When they leaf out, I’ll start doing my ID thing…) The woods end on the one side in a grassy verge dominated by an immense blackberry thicket, and run into the neighbor’s wooded property on the other side. In the back they just keep on going for acres. It’s the kind of woods you see in the south a lot–second or third generation forest, already cut a few times, lots of dense pine-needle-and-leaf-litter, full of blow-downs from hurricanes and woodpecker snags.

Today is crazy.

The overwintering juncos are still here, but they’re getting fewer.  At the same time, the goldfinches are out in force, over a dozen flitting around, the males starting to go more intense yellow already, hanging off the thistle sock and sitting in the covered tray feeder. There’s the usual run of chickadees, titmice, the occasional cardinal, and they’ve been joined by woodpeckers of all descriptions, including a pair of ground-feeding northern flickers. (The pileated hasn’t come back, but I think I spotted a hairy off in the trees, and that’s always neat.) I am particularly pleased by the flickers. They look so odd on the ground–woodpeckers aren’t meant for it–like big doves in pin-stripe suits. (Speaking of, the mourning doves have also arrived, picking their bobbing way across the yard, looking for scattered seed.)

Also, today the local robin flock has descended–must be twenty or thirty of them in the trees and in the yard. I never used to like robins much–they’re not pretty birds, they’re large and rusty and they don’t do feeders, preferring to scuffle through the leaf litter. I know, they’re a sign of spring and all, but I never notice that, probably because I’ve always lived in areas where they’re a year-round resident, so it didn’t come up. As birds, they’re just sort of there. But then I heard a report on NPR from a woman who was active in the movement to ban DDT spraying, and she described how after spraying, she would go out and there would be dead robins covering her yard. At one point, she gathered up an entire bushel basket of dead robins (and dumped it on the desk of her Congressman to make a point about DDT spraying being harmful to the environment, these being the days when political activism MEANT something.) from the yards in her neighborhood.

I’m way too young to remember this sort of thing, of course, but it made me appreciate them a lot more.

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