Last winter when walking past a window I wondered why there were red leaves left on the branches from fall.
Taking a second glance, I realized that these were no leaves. They were cardinals, perhaps a hundred of them when I counted the less visible females. I had never seen anything like it before in my life. There were as many cardinals on the ground near the feeder as there were perched up in the branches of the tree. I wondered if this was a fleeting image, and why I had never noticed them before. Days passed, and the cardinals remained. I felt a surge of happiness, and a little pride too, that our property was defeating the sad bird count reports that were coming in from all over the country. For months now I had been reading with alarm that backyards birds were dwindling in numbers all over America. I come from a family of bird lovers, on both sides. My husband's paternal grandfather and both my maternal grandfather and mother passed a love of birdwatching to both of us. My husband and I set up birdfeeders along with bird supporting vegetation all over the eleven acre property known as Hawk's Run. Almost any time of day or night, bird sound fills the air. From the smallest of hummingbirds to the largest of owls, feathered friends are always within sight. We have purposely left many areas wild on the margins of our land to help keep wildlife corridors open and useful to all kinds of animals that roam the land and sky. Feathers, nests, and eggshells become lessons of the day for three year old Wren, and notes are made in the Lifetime Bird Journal. Along the back of our saltbox hangs four different colored simple feeders that mark each year as we pass our time on this wonderful land. The closeness of these colored feeders allow us to see birds up close that we would never be able to approach in the wild. Twice a day, Canadian geese are seen and heard coming from one of the numerous lakes that dot the landscape of neighboring acreage. Many of these lakes were dug by Grandpa Ray, and it's difficult to look upon their beauty and not say a profound thank you for his foresight. Hawk's Run is defying the downturn in backyard bird numbers, and this gives us courage to plow forward with a plan for the land to remain as natural as possible. I hope to see the red "leaves" on the trees this winter, and each winter after. Hopefully, someday, long after we are gone, there will be enough colored feeders down the back of the house that each cardinal will have it's own perch.