Sunday, October 21, 2012


nature journal entry November 16, 2000 by OnlyDaughter (8th grade)

However careless we may be of our bird friends when we are in the midst of the luxurious life of summer, even the most careless among us give pleased attention to the birds that bravely endure with us the rigors of winter.  And when this winged companion of winter proves to be the most fascinating little ball of feathers ever created, constantly overflowing with cheerful song, our pleased attention changes to active delight.  Thus it is, that in all the lands of snowy winters the chickadee is a loved comrade of the country wayfarer; that happy song "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" finds its way to the dullest consciousness and the most callous heart.
~Anna Botsford Comstock Handbook of Nature Study

The Chickadees are here and I hope they decide to stay on for the winter.  Sometimes they stay, and sometimes they go.  I'm hoping that my offer of a never-ending supply of sunflower seeds will convince them to stay.  For now, I'll be content to listen for their sweet songs and watch their happy acrobatics.  I think chickadees are friendly birds.  They don't seem to mind sharing the backyard with me at all.  Just yesterday I filled the bird bath with fresh water and one of them came right up to me as I was pouring.  It was as if he couldn't wait to jump in or get a drink.  I know the sound of trickling water is very alluring to birds, but I like to think he came so near to say thank you. 

 I recall long ago OnlyDaughter wanted to "tame" the chickadees.  She had read somewhere that if you will be patient and still, oftentimes chickadees would come close and eventually land upon you just as they would a tree branch.  So out she went one winter afternoon to see if it might be true.  Standing still-as-a-stalk out in the snow underneath the swing set, her mitten'd hands open wide with an offering of sunflower seeds, she waited patiently, and soon the chickadees landed on her mittens and fed happily while my wide-eyed, rosy-cheeked girl grinned from ear to ear.  Is there anything so grand as a wild bird trusting the hand that feeds it?
 In the late fall and winter months, the sound of twittering birds becomes hushed here in the north country.  An eery silence falls, and all at once, so it seems, I realize the birds of summer have all gone.   Those hardy birds that do stay bring great joy.  Breaking the silence is a small ip-ip from a Nuthatch.  The hammering of the Downy Woodpecker or the Northern Flicker can be heard clear and loud on a still winter's day.  I love hearing the distinct hoo-ing of the owls back and forth at night, and it's great fun to take the grandgirls out "owling" with flashlights in hand to find the Great Horned Owl, but the jolly song of the chickadee is the sweetest that I know.  The Littles, even the youngest of them, like to imitate the song, "chick-a-dee-dee-dee."

The Crows have flown in now to gobble up the corn left behind in the feed bunks.  The Canada Geese made a V-line south.  The robins are still here, but they are all flocked together and I think they are talking it over when to pack it up and fly south.  The American Goldfinch have changed their bright yellow tuxedos for gray winter tweeds, and many of them will stay on for the winter. Maybe, just maybe the chickadees will stay too.


  1. Oh fun. We had a glut of chick a dees flitting about yesterday! What a joy to watch them flit. I'm still waiting to spot an owl. Maybe when we visit our son next weekend in Eastern Washington.

  2. I like to call them with my iPhone! They come! I haven't been feeding the birds (bad!) because I have been so on the go. Oh, how I look forward to going much slower in the weeks to come!
    I like your daughter's tribute to the chickadee!

  3. Love this post.

    We just returned from camping overnight at a local nature preserve and am watching two Carolina chickadees at our feeder right now. They seem to be a permanent fixture, along with the cardinals and wrens.

    I enjoyed reading about your daughter's journal entry. As much as I personally loved the bird walk yesterday, discovering a Cedar Waxwing as a family was a highlight of the year. Hoping that this study of nature is a tradition our children pass along to their own.


  4. I love the story of your daughter feeding the chickadees -- a memory to treasure. I do love chickadees, as well as titmice and cardinals, all so friendly. Thanks for your peek into life in the north country:)

  5. What a sweet story of your mittened daughter and her quiet patience. We don't have chickadees over here, they sound like sweet little birdies. :)

  6. I think we had one come through, I heard their call for a week or so but haven't heard it again. It looks like fall. Very nice shots.

  7. Oh, I love the Chickadees, too, Jody! We had them at our feeder all the time in Klamath Falls, and Aaron used to get them to take seeds from his hand, too. And the nature journal--so sweet! You're making me nostalgic. . . :-)

    I hope the chickadees decide to stay with you this winter!

  8. I too love the chickadees! They're in our area all year but seem even more cheerful in the winter. We tried the holding-still chickadee trick years ago but it didn't work for us. How great your daughter succeeded! Love her nature journal entry! Love Anna Comstock.
    Oh, and I love your blog!-

  9. What a great ode to the chickadee. I love it. They are also one of my favorite birds.

  10. What sweet memories you are making!

  11. I love the little chickadees, too. It was fun visualizing your daughter with little chickadees perching on her gloves. It seems that I see more chickadees in winter than in summer or maybe I just notice them more because the other birds have gone south.

  12. Aww, I miss the American birds! Though truth be told, we have some of the chickadees' European cousins in our courtyard.

    I loved your daughter's drawing and e-mailed it to mine. What a nice touch to have the birds hanging from the staff lines! And I love the story of your daughter taming the chickadees, of course.


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