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Other Birds Come and Go, But The Cardinals Stay

Costco doesn't sell grape jelly. Every now and then, I swing by the particular aisle where they stock oversized containers of peanut butter and jelly, to see if this has changed. We purchase our grape jelly in bulk from Gordon Foods. I did some holiday shopping there and picked up two more jars of jelly, just in case I didn't have any at home. I hadn't used it for a few months, so I couldn't remember. When I got home, I did have a big jar in the pantry still, so I set the other jars beside it on the shelf. They'll stay there for a few months yet.


It's mid-March, but the weather hasn't really behaved itself for months now, so it saw fit to dump another bucketful of snow on the frozen ground a few days ago. Not enough to cause much of a disturbance, but another chance for us to see the bright red cardinals against the pearly white snow. Flying from the feeder to the woodpile to the snowy white ground, the cardinals brighten up our landscape, even when the other birds have fled for the south. They're really the only birds of color who stay. Food must be hard to come by in winter, because our bird feeders empty every 2-3 days. It's the red-bellied woodpecker primarily who eats the suet, but soon enough he'll be joined by other woodpeckers of the pileated and downy varieties, who perhaps have taken to the woods for the winter.


I was delighted when my husband asked me to take a road trip with him that random Monday in January. It's one of the things I love about us; our delight at searching for hidden treasures on a road trip. We got the obligatory errand out of the way first, and then did some exploring on our way home. That's how we happened to find ourselves in Wildbirds Unlimited. He saw me eyeing a bluebird house, and decided this year we'd hang it up in hopes of attracting a bluebird couple. Imagine my excitement when I went outside to take our daughter down to the bus last Wednesday morning, and I saw a male bluebird perched on the roof of the new house. It flew from there to a post in the garden when I opened the door. I haven't seen it since that morning, but we've noticed a few starlings lurking nearby. We've talked a lot about ways to get this invasive species to move along, hopefully before the bluebirds settle elsewhere.








The Cardinals Stay









Soon enough, we'll put our other feeders back on the hooked post that has sat vacant since October. We had about a week of unseasonably warm weather recently, and we heard the sandhill cranes off in the distance. The geese and a few bufflehead have made the return trip to our pond. Slowly, the land is coming to life again. With that, we expect the orioles and hummingbirds to return. We'll get the grape jelly off the pantry shelf and mix up the sugar water, because they both like things real sweet. If we're lucky, these birds will include our feeder in their flight pattern before the bees discover the sweetness.


It does my heart good to see it all spring to life again. Hope springs up right alongside it. We'll be surrounded by a cacophony of bird calls and new colors will arrive to fly beside the bold, red feathers of our cardinals. The yellow chickadees, the purple finches, the blue herons and the scarlet tanager, to name a few. If we're lucky, we'll have an indigo bunting sighting. I guess the older I get, I'm partial to the cardinals, because they stay. When it's dark and the snow threatens to never let up, there's that splash of red flying across my back window. "I'm here," they seem to say. Hope is here.


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