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Chickadees At Grandpa's

Our daughter met and married a very fine young man several years ago. Soon their house was blessed with a beautiful daughter and suddenly my wife and I became first-time grandparents.

This wonderful event drew attention to how far apart we lived. You see, we live in eastern Maryland and they live in Indiana. The Distance between us has made any time we have with our granddaughter precious. For this reason, I want to share how bird watching brought us closer during a recent visit.

For two weeks in late December and early January, our granddaughter, now age 2 and 1/2, visited us in Maryland. In our household we watch the birds all the time, and have many feeders going in order to attract lots of species. When Emily arrived after a long drive, to visit, it didn't take long to see that she seemed to have the makings of quite a birder.

She rushed to the windows and took an immediate interest in the antics of the birds at our feeders. We have placed many feeders close enough to the house so even little birders like her can get excellent views. Cardinals naturally caught her eye, but this little child was also spotting distinctive features of many of the other birds. My heart warmed as she attentively listened to my descriptions of the color differences that distinguish the Junco from the sparrows that were about the same size. She was a quick little student, and laughed happily when I pointed out the House Finch as the bird that looks like someone spilled raspberry juice on its head.

Her eyes grew large and her face reflected joy and wonder the first time a large flock of Canada Geese swarmed in and landed on the creek waters beside our house.

When she finally had to leave, I sure did miss my little birding partner. Now that she is back home in Indiana, her parents report that she has been teaching her Indiana Grandparents the names of the birds that come to their feeders. I was especially touched and inspired when her mom reported to me that every time Emily sees a Chickadee, she will call out the name and then add the phrase "a Chickadee, that's one of my favorites". The girl is just beginning to talk, yet that phrase correctly reflects the enthusiasm that we shared the few times that a Chickadee appeared for us here in Maryland.

The joy of birding is wonderful indeed! The great fun of the birding times with my granddaughter inspired me to write and share the experience so that other parents and grandparents may seek out the same joy. I love to see our little granddaughter discovering the joys of birding. Once started, she will have access to such joy for the rest of her life.

Les Roslund, Talbot County Easton, MD

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