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150 year old Pennsylvania church converted to a home & artist workshop studio

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Bird watching for beginners

This morning I took an apple and a glass of water and sat on the chair I've positioned for optimum viewing pleasure at the bird feeders outside the entrance on the east side of the church.

It was early and the light was twinkling through the stand of pine trees just beyond our drive with the sun coming up. I hadn't looked at the clock beside my bed or my phone for the time, but I know it was after six because I had spoken to Morton on his way in to work.

There were only the leaves rustling in the light wind on the big branch and tangle of vines we have stood tucked in and tied to the porch railing at this entrance door. It was my idea to put it there for a bit of protection for the three bird feeders we have hanging at the ready.

Yesterday had been  a busy day there all day. Not just with birds, but the squirrels were enjoying it too. Lots of varieties of beautiful birds singing, chirping, fluttering from feeder to feeder. Then this morning, nothing.

Through the glass doors I saw the feeders were still holding the seeds and the two suet cakes had plenty of food left on them.

Did I really beat the birds to breakfast?

As I got down to the core of my apple, the very first little chickadee appeared. It flitted on a bittersweet vine that is hanging almost vertically, impossibly clinging on and swaying towards the feeder. It grabbed a seed with a tiny beak, then promptly flew to the concrete steps to crack it open.

From inside I couldn't hear the sound it made. It was as if the birds had heard a starting gun for runners and from out of the woods and nowhere, about a dozen winged wonders came in. Maybe it was more the sound of a mother ringing the dinner bell in days of old. The birds got the message and all came out.

Sitting and watching I counted the varieties of birds. I was remembering I wanted to look on my phone for a bird watching app, there must be one. Several I knew, but there were some I'd never seen before.

The bird-hive of activity continued with me sitting still and watching, apple core in hand. They tweeted, chirped and said their good mornings to each other. The smaller ones dropped seeds and the larger birds would pick them up. The blue jays were not squawking as loud as they usually do and there were no signs of the squirrels, so there were no fights over the feeders.

Just as my legs were reminding me I was sitting too long and had lots of things to do today, I heard a noise on the little metal roof that is over this entrance. The blue jay heard it too and flew from the feeder to a higher branch.

The noise was the squirrel that was building a leaf nest on top of the roof yesterday, tucked back in beside the bricks and in the shelter of the larger roof that projected out a bit of cover. The squirrel jumped to the bittersweet vines and then down to the metal hand rail, running all the way to the birdbath that was freshly filled with water from the rain yesterday evening.

Washing his little furry face and eating something the found on the edge of the feeder, the squirrel turned and looked right up at the blue jay. I was regretting letting my phone beside my bed because this was as tense as a moment as was ever played out on a movie screen.

Sitting up on the rail, the squirrel started chattering, shaking his tail and was seriously telling the blue jay to get out of his tree. As if to dare the squirrel, the big blue bird flew to the feeder that can take his weight and he is able to get sunflower seeds from, the squirrel has claimed this for his personal feeder. The morning struggle was on.

Taking a seed, the squirrel jumped on the feeder and the bird flew away, squawking loudly. The squirrel was left alone on the swinging feeder looking like the king of the mountain. The rest of the smaller birds just ignored this activity and were merrily flitting, chirping and singing sweet songs.

The cheeky squirrel jumped off the feeder, ran over to the nearest pine tree and ran up it, sitting on a branch where he could see the feeder. I was still able to see him, but the blue jay must not have been able to. In a matter of seconds, the beautiful blue bird flew in to the squirrel-free feeder and was back to his breakfast.

This is where I figure the squirrel is just a little ornery. He runs as fast as I've ever seen a squirrel go and and takes a flying leap to the feeder, nearly hitting the big blue jay. The wings flap just in time and again, the squirrel is left the victor, swinging in the morning sunshine.

Just then I hear a noise on the metal roof. Another squirrel appears. She has a furry little lump on her. I know it's a her, because the lump is her baby. The little family had spent the night in their new nest tucked on top of the metal roof.

My mind was thinking that the squirrel was being greedy or playful, but he was just looking out for the momma and her baby. She jumped to the feeder and started eating. He sat on the top, watching.

This was too much for me and I had to go get my phone to get a picture for Morton to see. I stood up and backed slowly out of what I thought was their line of vision. They were still there eating when I went up on the stage, grabbing my phone quickly and heading back as quiet as I could be.

When I crept around the corner, there was just a swinging bird feeder and all the squirrels were gone. I waited for a few minutes, but my to-do list is a long one today, so my bird watching, turned squirrel watching, had to be discontinued.

This was a lovely little moment to see and a beautiful way to start my Monday. Hope you see something lovely today too.

Priscilla :)

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