It just feels like snow out here, I thought. Low-hanging gray clouds filled the sky like an oppressive blanket. Not a breath of air stirred the few maple leaves scattered on the ground. Even the woods seemed strangely silent. I pulled my coat tighter around me and hurried back into the warm house.
“The birds surely seem to know that snow is coming,” I remarked to my brother Christian.
“Hey, let’s do our bird count today,” he suggested.
“Good idea,” I agreed. “The bird feeder is extra busy now anyway. Maybe we will see a new bird!”
So while the snowflakes drifted down, busy pencils recorded bird feeder activities.
“That’s the twelfth kind of bird!” Christian announced a while later, after seeing a Black-capped Chickadee.
The day passed swiftly, and we added the totals. “Fifteen different bird species, and a total of forty-five birds!” Christian announced happily.
The next morning Christian asked, “Are we going to count birds again today?”
“I don’t think so,” I replied. “After all, I don’t think we would see any more birds.”
After Christian had started his school lessons, I happened to glance out the window toward the lilac bush. “Christian, LOOK! A Red-headed Woodpecker!” I exclaimed.
Although that is not an uncommon bird for Pennsylvania, I had never seen one before. The subject of our excitement sat on the lilac branch, its head turning slowly from side to side.
“Did you say a Red-headed Woodpecker?” Mother wondered, turning to look. “Why, sure enough! I have seen them already, but never on our property.”
The woodpecker soon flew away, but now I had an idea. “Christian, let’s write down the birds we see today. First of all, the Red-headed Woodpecker…and I just heard the Carolina Wren again, and saw a White-crowned Sparrow.”
“And we saw those eight Blue Jays earlier,” Christian remembered. ‘I saw about fifty starlings while I was doing my chores. There is a Black-capped Chickadee at the feeder, and a Dark-eyed Junco on the ground.”
After dinner, while traveling to a viewing, I glimpsed two Turkey Vultures soaring above the trees. On the way back, we spied five Rock Pigeons.
“Let’s go down to the woods. Maybe we’ll see something else,” Christian suggested.
In a few minutes, the snow crunched under our boots as we strolled toward the woods. “There goes a mockingbird!” I exclaimed, pointing.
We meandered to the creek and walked down the narrow trail beside it. “Christian, look up!” A Great Blue Heron slowly winged its way overhead.
“I was wishing we could see one!” he replied.
“If we hold really still, maybe we will hear another bird,” I suggested, leaning against a tree trunk. A Red-bellied Woodpecker gave its nasal call from a nearby tree. Then, so faintly I could barely hear it, came the calls of a migrating flock of Canada Geese. Soon Christian pointed to the V-shaped flock, barely more than dots.
“Two, four, six,” I counted. “Seventy-five is what I guess! That’s a nice-sized flock.”
We hurried toward the house, both satisfied with what we had seen. That was a worthwhile day, I pondered.