An evening of bird watching


“The woods that border my property is filled with color and character. I have no desire to be inside when nature is performing a musical just for me.”

— Gladys Taber

The songbirds here on our Ohio farm have been working overtime, making it very hard to concentrate on the work needing to be done.

My 18-month-old grandson sat on my lap, enjoying just being outdoors on a lovely afternoon, sipping cold water and jabbering in his own unique language.

I pointed to the birds flying through our backyard as we rocked on the porch.

“Do you hear the birds? They are talking to us,” I said.


I then let out a short whistle to match the songbird somewhere out of our vision.

Brooks laughed, set his water cup aside, and tried his best to whistle. Each time I whistled, the bird sang back in the same tone.

“Wow,” this happy little boy said in a soft voice, barely above a whisper.

He was then suddenly frustrated that his attempt at whistling produced nothing but a puff of air.

Just then, a big blue jay with attitude chased off a yellow finch and landed nearby, and a moment later a bright male cardinal flew fairly low, bringing another joyous expression from little Brooks, who pointed and made sure I was paying attention.

We have a grove of cherry trees, and this year they are loaded with bounty. It has brought an abundance of beautiful birds, some of which I have never seen before.

It is such a gift on this quiet place, as they arrive with their own unique music and vibrant color.


As I was finishing up a weeding and cleaning job under our old oak tree, (is there a messier tree than an aging oak in late springtime?) I heard a sound that was unique and wonderful.

I glanced just above me, trying not to move quickly, and to my happy surprise, there perched a Baltimore oriole singing loudly, pouring out his happy heart.

There was no doubt it was a male oriole, with color so bright, the flute-like song loud and pure. It is said that each male oriole has its own unique song.

I was transfixed by the sight of this strikingly beautiful bird. It flitted from branch to branch on the oak before taking flight to the cherry grove for a time.

Because of his bright orange color, I could track him as he moved from one cherry tree to another.

When he returned to the oak tree, he flew so low I was startled to get such a great view.

He landed on a low branch just over me and continued to sing. The black on this oriole was so shiny it appeared blue in the bright sunlight coming down through the leaves.


It would be wonderful to have orioles nest here, but it doesn’t seem likely.

There are so many birds passing through here constantly, it is likely they will go in search of a spot a bit less traveled.

The orioles go quiet when nesting, the female building a little sock-like hanging home so neatly it looks like a woven basket.

I have only seen pictures, and have thought what a find it would be to see one after the eggs hatch and the orioles fledge.


Later that very same day, I watched a huge bird with enormous wing-span flying and floating so high it was difficult to identify.

I watched as a small bird chased and once in a while made contact with it, trying to send the message “scram!” since it likely is nesting nearby.

Barn swallows swoop over the water and touch down here and there, gathering insects, making themselves valuable.

I love to watch them in flight as evening draws close, second only to my favorite bluebirds that gather here throughout the summertime.

Give me a glass of iced tea and this tranquil farm, the only sound a tractor working somewhere off in the distance, and the orchestra of a glorious band of colorful songbirds.

There is surely nothing finer.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.



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