When I was in the second grade, the teacher would write a paragraph on the blackboard, and we’d copy it in our best printing. Then we’d crayon a picture and paste our copywork neatly on the back with two splots, one in each top corner. I still have some of those pieces. They were my introduction, and the beginning of my love for birds. The Scarlet Tananger and the Baltimore Oriole are two of those long-ago-studied birds. Though I have never seen either, I still have hopes.
There are several redbirds that I love. The Vermillion is a tiny flycatcher that lives out west. The Cardinal, of course, means a letter is coming. My cousins say that our grandma is swooping by to check on us when a Cardinal is spotted. I love seeing the sun glint off their red feathers against the winter snow and on a spring morning.
Goldfinches are another species loved by me. My former spouse and I spent a small fortune on thistle seed to attract the finches. They would hang on the socks by the score. My sunflowers-gone-to-seed at my tiny house drew flocks of goldfinches last summer. When I’d open my backdoor, a golden cloud of finches would billow up. Now, on the farm, I am spotting the American goldfinch on the ditch weeds.
I love Blue Jays, Bluebirds, the Rufous-sided Towee, Nuthatches, and Juncos, and the Redwinged Blackbird that perches on the fence posts lining the fields. The huge Sandhill Cranes are gathering at puddles among the small cornstalks.
The country morning is rich with the birdsongs. It is the sound of childhood, summer mornings, and times of reflection. God’s tiny signs are truly the greatest gifts given.