The birds and the books
If you’re pretty well versed in the “birds and the bees,” then I’m going out on a limb and presume you’re ready for the “birds and the books.”
About this time every year, my husband and I become the proud guardians of a new immigrant family. We assume this role because we provide a home rent free to a pair of expectant parents as they are feathering their nest.
It’s in our tree, located within a birds-eye view of our kitchen window, that our young couple takes refuge. We watch as they demonstrate planned parenthood at its finest, diligently building a secure future for their nest eggs. Then one day, the expectant mom settles in, sits and waits.
“How long before we hear the first peeps from the nursery,?” I wonder. Books at Hastings Public Library help us find answers that our view from the kitchen can’t.
“Birds of Nebraska Field Guide” tells us that we may expect hatchlings in as early as 12 days. This book provides interesting trivia by author Stan Tekiela, naturalist and wildlife photographer.
Our babies are hatched and we learn also from Tekiela that mom and dad will take turns feeding them.
They grow into rambunctious adolescents that hold the noisiest parties when they’re home alone but never miss an opportunity for a free meal when mom and dad return with fast food.
A baby robin can ingest 14 feet of earthworms in a day, according to “100 Birds and How They Got Their Names.”
My husband and I, having two grown children ourselves, always feel that familiar pang of sentiment when we notice after a couple of weeks that another nest is empty at our address.
Sometimes the fledglings hang around our yard long enough for us to enjoy them quickly grow from tiny peeps to young adults that treat us to their beautiful melodies; at dawn singing a more continuous and spirited version.
“Music of the Birds, A Celebration of Bird Song” gives descriptions of common bird tunes and is accompanied by a CD that offers audio examples.
My husband and I are not alone in our appreciation for our feathered friends. Bird-watching is the biggest spectator sport in America, particularly in Nebraska where there are varying habitats and an abundant birdlife. There are more than 800 species of birds in North America, 350 in Nebraska alone.
At Hastings Public Library, a quick shelf count shows at least a 100 books dedicated to the study of birds, from those mentioned, to a variety of field guides, books about specific birds, their habits and habitats. The National Audubon Society’s Field Guides with full-color photographs make identifying birds easy. Peterson Field Guides offer a unique identification system and full-color paintings. “The Secret Lives of Birds” is an entertaining look at nesting and grooming habits. Enjoy the birds and the books!