Each year as Fall approaches I begin to change some of my birdfeeding habits as Summer gradually turns in to Fall. I swap the safflower seed to sunflower seed when I know the Grackles have left the area (Grackles are bullies and will scare away most of the birds and have been known to kill the young bird not fast enough to hop out of their way. Grackles are unable to open Safflower seed with their bills and will give up on a feeder filled with the white seed) and put out suet for the Woodpeckers.
When the symphony of birdsong is reduced to the chips of sparrows and the tapping of woodpeckers as they search for food under tree bark, I listen for the return of the Blue Jays in my neighborhood. As soon as I hear their raucous calls, I place the peanut feeder out. It takes them a few days to find it, but when they do, they visit the feeder several times a day, carrying off a peanut or hammering away at a shell within the confines of the feeder to reach a tasty peanut.
I don't know what it is about Fall that makes me introspective and melancholy. I waver between enjoying Fall and hating its arrival. I miss the chorus of frogs, crickets, katydids and cicadas, the lazy blink of fireflies and the competing melodies of the birds. I long for the vibrant reds, blues, yellows and purples of the wildflowers and the long hours of light. I enjoy working outside and finding unexpected treasures such as a prairie kingsnake resting under a rock, a praying mantis sitting quietly on a leaf or watching a spotted fawn bound across the prairie with his mother.
But yet I enjoy the stillness of Fall, the chips of the returning winter sparrows, the crisp air and the rusted reds, oranges and yellows of the turning leaves. Fall is also the time I return to my habit of walking on the park trail that sits alongside the river. It is relaxing, peaceful to watch the river flow and the landscape reflect the colors of a beautiful sunset.
I am sad to see the flycatchers, warblers and hummingbirds leave with the summer, but I am delighted with the return of the mockingbirds, crows, sparrows and jays. Of course these birds are here year round, but in my neck of the woods, I only see the aforementioned birds during the fall and winter.
Well, whatever the reason for my ambivalence towards Fall, the antics of the Blue Jays at my peanut feeder make the season bearable.
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