BIRD WATCH: Company for the holidays, both feathered and family

GUESTS DURING THE holidays can also be Christmas gifts, especially when one is a favorite cousin from Florida.

A planned entertainment schedule isn’t needed, but there were entertainers that showed up every day.

The birds outside the kitchen window monopolized Diane’s attention more than I had anticipated.

She has enjoyed the birds at the feeders before, but something was different this year.

It was the hummingbird feeder that is attached to one window.

It was installed last summer, and I take its action for granted.

There is a parade of Anna’s hummingbirds coming to it all day long.

It just so happened that Diane’s place at the table was right alongside the window with the feeder.

The birds were feeding about 14 inches from her shoulder.

When the snow fell, the competition at this feeder was what you might expect. All this hummingbird activity started us discussing Florida’s hummingbird action.

Anna’s hummingbird is a western species. Almost all of the hummingbirds are found in the western half of the country.

Only the hardy ruby-throated hummingbird makes the long flight over the Gulf of Mexico and to the eastern portion of the country. Like our rufous, the ruby-throated heads south in the fall. It doesn’t stay in Florida.

Our beautiful male hummingbird got the most attention. Diane’s cellphone was always at the ready.

She wanted at least one good photo, and I think that’s what she got.

Window reflections are bad enough to deal with, but the suspicious bird was always watching the photographer.

The slightest movement sent it into a nearby tree — but not for too long.

Diane’s nieces and nephew transferred her from the airport to my house, so I had a day of catching up with their young lives, too.

Of course, everyone winds up in the kitchen, and getting food on the table can be challenging.

When one niece asked the attention-getting question “What is that bird?,” everyone tried to look out the window at once.

“It looks like a chickadee, but its back is all chestnut-colored.”

That little bird is one we should always introduce to guests.

The chestnut-backed chickadee is a Northwest prize. Most of the country and even a large part of Washington are more familiar with the black-capped chickadee.

Carole was surprised and not a little chagrined that she hadn’t recognized this bird at her home in Woodinville.

I’m sure she will soon find it in her own garden.

Not everyone visiting is seriously into bird-watching, but like so many people in today’s society, they are interested in them.

A parade of juncos, towhees and several sparrow species along with the chickadees, nuthatches and bushtits can capture almost anyone’s attention.

Curiosity is persuasive. Once you become interested in a subject, it is natural to want to learn more about it.

That is also true when it comes to watching birds. To see a bird as you haven’t noticed it before opens your eyes and your mind to something new.

You want to know more about it. Birds are great for capturing your attention, and when you begin to want to see more new birds, you are going down the path to becoming a bird-watcher.

Even if you don’t become a “serious” bird-watcher, you have added a new dimension to your life.

Birds, wherever you are, will be noticed.

My cousins’ (all of them) visit was a wonderful gift for me, and I hope to add a trip to Florida to next year’s activities.

I hope you have loved ones coming for the holidays.

They are gifts to enjoy even if “serious bird-watcher” isn’t in their description.


Joan Carson’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at P.O. Box 532, Poulsbo, WA 98370, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. Email:

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