Old Friends New Again

From Home Sweet Home, Kim writes: I've spent the better part of the last two days preparing a presentation about the trip we took to the Galapagos last November. Kenn and I will be giving the talk together (which is so fun!) tomorrow night at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR). ONWR is the Observatory's neighbor, just a half mile west of the marsh that BSBO lives in. We have a very strong working relationship with the refuge staff, and we partner on many projects and programs. They're a great bunch of people and do amazing work maintaining habitat for thousands of migratory birds. I feel so blessed to have a refuge in our area, and most of 4500+ acres were purchased with Federal Duck Stamp monies! Every birder should be buying the stamp!

My office chair kind of sucks, so as I was putting the talk together, I'd get up and check the feeders every once in a while just to move and stretch a little.

Who thinks Kim should get a new office chair for Christmas?!

Kenn and I have only been in this house for about 5 months, so we're still working on our yard list. The most recent addition to the list was Pine Siskin--very cool! But yesterday, an old friend showed up and really made my day. There, in the midst of the usual gang of House Sparrows, was a female Red-bellied Woodpecker! I ran for the camera and got a few crappy shots of her before she took off.
She was a bit shy about her first few visits, but she came back today and seemed a little more relaxed about the whole thing. Kind of like me when I first arrived here.

All my life I've lived in the country, so I really had mixed feelings about living in town. Well, okay, Oak Harbor is a bit more like a village than a town. But still. Since it's become an "indicator species" perhaps it would help you picture Oak Harbor if I told you that there's not even ONE STARBUCKS in Oak Harbor. Nope. Not one. Nada. That's right, here in Oak Harbor we still drink good-old .99 for the big cup, gas station coffee. And, surprisingly enough...we’re okay.

Oak Harbor's proximity to the bird observatory and Magee Marsh (less than 10 minutes away), and the fact that the house was perfect for us, had been the deciding factors in our move, but I was a little uncertain about it. Having lived in the country all my life, I was apprehensive about living within the confines of even a small town. I mean, I knew I’d be happy--I’d be happy anywhere as long as I’m with Kenn--but within the first few days, I knew I was going to love it here. Our neighbors have kids that--get this--PLAY OUTSIDE! We like to play outside too. So, of course, Kenn and I have spent time with the kids looking at birds, bugs, trees, bats, the night sky. So yeah, having kids nearby that actually like to be outside was definitely a good start.

And then my old friends started to come around. First it was the trusty, dependable goldfinches. They arrived on our second day in the house as if to say, “No matter where you go, we'll be with you!" Next came the Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Mourning Doves. It took a bit longer, but eventually the White-breasted Nuthatches dropped by, and not long after, we were thrilled to see Red-breasted Nuthatches too!

Yes, all these old friends quieted the tiny doubts in the back of my mind about my ability to adjust to life in the "big city." But, there’s just something about woodpeckers--you know?! When the first Downy showed up, I was at the bird observatory, and Kenn called to share the news with me. I’m not afraid to admit that I rushed home so I could see it too.

Kenn has taken me all over the world and showed me some of the planet’s most amazing birds. I can still recall the intense emotions that I felt when he showed me Blue-footed Boobies in the Galapagos; Honey Buzzards in Sweden; Maroon-fronted Parrots in Mexico; and Plate-billed Mountain-Toucans and Sword-billed Hummingbirds in Ecuador. Those experiences have shaped my life and made my world so much more three dimensional. But, I know Kenn will understand when I tell you that yesterday, when “our” Red-bellied Woodpecker arrived for her first visit, home was the only place in the world I wanted to be.


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