The return of the songbirds


“Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.” 

— Anonymous 

Things have been much more colorful on our small farm these last couple of weeks, and it is amazing how much it can lift the spirits. In spite of the gloom of gray skies and ongoing rains keeping us mired in a chilly haze, there are good things to focus on. 

The pastures are abundantly thick and green in that early spring kind of way that gets our attention. The long spell of dead vegetation after an early frost and a dark winter makes the coming to life on a farm so much sweeter. 

It seems as though a colorful paint set brought it all back to us with a giant stroke of the brush, granting us dandelions and all. Every tree has come to life, blooms abundant this year. 


My happiest splash of color has come from the return of the songbirds. The Baltimore orioles are more plentiful than I’ve ever seen them this year, and it seems they’ve spread the word that someone here will provide for them. 

This morning when I first woke up, I saw a beautiful, colorful bird just outside my living room window, perched on the grape jelly feeder. Though I couldn’t be absolutely sure, the red with a splash of yellow on a very distinct head made me feel pretty certain I had seen a red-bellied woodpecker. 


The life of a songbird is a precarious one. The life expectancy of most migratory small songbirds is right around two years. Predators, starvation, loss of habitat, accidents, hunting and disease cut these lives short. There is no place for an endangered bird to turn for aid, and sometimes they grow so weak they can no longer take flight. 


I fill my pantry this time of year with jars of grape jelly so I’m prepared to bring in the Baltimore orioles and keep them fed, and the bonus for my efforts has been plentiful. In the early morning and again toward evening, the big maple tree fills with cardinals and orioles waiting their turn to swoop down for a quick bite of jelly for breakfast. 

This time of year, there is so much catching up to do, with work needing to be done every single place the eye lands. I’ve got to get cracking, and yet I find myself drawn back to the show taking place right outside my front window. I don’t want to miss the opening act of a newly-added cast member.


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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, and three grandchildren.



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