Letter from Birdland | Of birds and boats | Travel


It’s a chilly day in Birdland, and the yard is a riot of daffodils, but we’re slowly transitioning from yellow season to pink, as the ornamental quince buds open.

I can turn from my computer to look out my window (which I do every 15 minutes or so) and see the buds busting into flowers on the bare branches. In fact, the redbud that stands just behind the quince is also dotted with pink along the branches. The sky is overcast, so the colors are subtle, but it’s still a delight to see them.

My bee mentor came over yesterday. She knew I was worried about my bees. Did I have a healthy colony? Or were the bees buzzing around my hive just robbers from down the road? Sometimes, if a colony is weak, a stronger one will take advantage of it and come in to steal the honey. It was a chilly day, so we didn’t want to open the hive too far, but her verdict was that I do have a healthy colony who are raising brood.

After we put the hive back together, we walked out into the field. It hasn’t been planted yet, and it is carpeted with a fuzzy pink. My bee mentor said it is henbit. She wanted to see if the bees were working it. We didn’t find any on such a cold day, but the flowers look just like the blue-tinted ground ivy that will come later all over my yard, and the bees like that quite a bit.

One reason I was worried was that I had only seen a few bees carrying pollen on their legs into the hive. I told her that the pollen I saw was bright orange, and she said that is from dandelions. Even though the flowers are yellow, she said, the pollen is orange.

Last week, we took a little trip up to Lake Erie. Before we could get on the highway, we saw a bald eagle by the side of the road. I was driving, and I was so excited, I couldn’t get my words out. I just let out a yelp, but Michael saw it, too. I wondered aloud if I should turn around, and my husband had a strong opinion on the matter, “Of course you should turn around!” he said. “How many times do we get that close to an eagle?” So I turned around, and back we went.

The eagle was eating something, and a turkey vulture waited politely a few feet away. I stopped the car so Michael could snap some pictures. The car behind us would just have to wait, just like the turkey vulture was waiting for his turn at the roadkill. Michael thought that if a turkey and a vulture could sit together in peace, we humans should be able to get along, and I had to agree.

It was a long drive, but we had the dogs with us. Somehow, the dogs help us remember to stop more often to walk around a bit and get a drink of water.

Even with the stops, we made good time, and we got to our hotel in time to get some dinner. We were there in Ohio to look at some boats. We’ve sailed on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, so we thought we’d try Lake Erie.

Driving along the edge of the lake to the marina, we saw egrets standing in a line in the reeds by the shore. On the inlet, two swans swam, and later, we came across several loons. You’d think we were there to look at birds.

We liked the boats, but we liked the marina more. It was not a fancy one, but we passed modest cabins lined neatly on each side of the road, and I caught up with the harbor master who kindly opened the women’s restroom for me and gave me a price sheet for the slips so we could see the true cost of keeping a sailboat.

On the way home, we saw one more bald eagle in a nest high in a tree. The nest was sturdy, built almost comically of large sticks. The eagle was bending over the nest, tenderly. Tending her young?

For a while, we talked about the eagles, about how we saw no raptors of any kind while we were growing up. I distinctly remember when we started seeing hawks when our kids were little, about 30 years ago. At first, it was an anomaly, then it became common. I remember one trip to town when we saw a hawk perched on nearly every fence post we passed. Then I stopped pointing them out to the kids. It was another few decades before we saw eagles, but now here they are.

Walk in beauty; work in peace; blessed be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She is serious about answering mail from readers, email too! Consider subscribing to support your small-town newspaper. You can follow Birdland on Instagram and Twitter @BirdlandLetters or at letterfrombirdland.blogspot.com. Mary can be reached at letterfrombirdland@gmail.com or via snail mail care of this newspaper.

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