Last time we spent a few days at Noel's parents' house, Cady Gray couldn't get enough of Grandma Libby's bird feeder. She watched through the living room and kitchen windows as the birds flitted on and off the deck, collecting sightings and assigning personalities to the various species.
I filed that experience away in the back of my head. And when I saw a bird feeder recommended on Kevin Kelly's marvelously useful Cool Tools site, I decided to bring it home.
Since then, Cady Gray comes to me daily with reports of what bird has made an appearance at the feeder. We've had our share of sparrows and wrens and Carolina chickadees and tufted titmouses, as well as the abundant cardinals in our neighborhood. Both of us have marveled at how many house finches live around us, and have thrilled to the brilliant neon flash of eastern bluebirds. And most exciting, we've often been visited by a pair of downy woodpeckers and even the occasional hairy woodpecker.
Last week, passing through our front room with the big bay windows, I was startled to see a hummingbird buzz by -- and then another. Hoping to attract more, Cady Gray and I acquired a little feeder to stick on the window. Then we waited. Day after day we watched. And yesterday evening, Noel and I were rewarded with a visit from a couple of hummingbirds. I reported to Cady Gray that our feeder had been found, and before we took off for language camp this morning she insisted on watching for a bit. Not two minutes passed before she came running to report her first hummingbird sighting to me.
We've learned that the ruby-throated hummingbird summers in Arkansas, and it appears that we've been visited by both females (who lack the red patch on the throat) and at least one male (who I saw just this afternoon).
I love the excitement that dawns on Cady Gray's face when she tells me about the species she's collected, and describes their behavior. It gives her a pride in expertise, too, as she adopts the role of my guide to Arkansas' bird life. What an unexpected delight, these series of moments prompted by the nature Cady Gray loves so much.