Lewis's in the Yard
Birders, as a general rule, are list keepers. Most keep a master "Life List" list of all the bird species they have seen. Then they keep records of all the birds they have seen in a year. There is a list for all the birds they have seen in a particular country, a specific state, the county they live in, and even a list for specific days. No matter how unorganized the rest of their life may be, in their birding lists there is order.
One of the favorite lists that many birders keep is their "Yard List." These are the birds that have graced the little patch of geography they call home. Many are the birders that have outfitted their home turf with flora and feeders to attract birds into their area. The general rule is that any bird seen from their home can go on a Yard List, so the Eagle that was clearly visible flying over the highway a mile away counts. But, it is the birds that actually land in the yard, rewarding the careful cultivation of an enticing habitat, that bring a special sense of joy.
Living in southern Arizona high desert, in arguably the birding capital the United States, we have had many surprising birds visit the yard. For example, there was the Zone-tailed and Swainson's Hawks that dropped in for a drink from the pond, and the Lucifers Hummingbird that came off the mountain, where it typically spends the summer, to visit our valley feeder. Other mountain dwellers, like Acorn Woodpeckers and Mexican Jays, have stopped in. And there are the precious Scaled Quail, the keystone cops of the yard, whose regular visits we cherish dearly. But, my favorite may quite possibly be this Lewis's Woodpecker that decided to partake in some suet and water these past few days.
Woodpeckers, in general, tend to be magnificent birds - how many other species got their own cartoon? Within that clan, the Lewis's has every right to lay claim to most unique. The only green woodpecker in the United States, with a deep red mask and reddish belly that fades into pink in transition to a white breast, it winters in small numbers in the southern desert like a lingering Christmas ornament. It may be January now, but I consider its visit to our yard a very special, albeit belated, Christmas present from God.
Words and photos may be my gift, but the words that express the grace in my life to witness His glorious creations often elude me. I am honored and humbled to share these visions. I remain His scribe.
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