We are fortunate enough to live in a rural area. There is a tree line on our property that follows a small creek. These are the perfect ingredients to invite birds. I’ve seen many varieties out here, and over the past few years, I’ve noticed they come and go with the seasons. Seems pretty obvious, but living in the suburbs most of my life, I only paid attention to the robins…’the first robin of Spring’. Living where I do now, I’ve come to expect certain species at specific times of the year. In the Spring, of course, we have the robins, then following them in the late Spring, early Summer are the goldfinches–these are some of my favorites. I love to watch the way they fly across the field, dipping and bobbing, chirping the whole way. They enjoy the sunflowers I plant every year in the garden, too. The yellow and black of their wings blends perfectly with the sunflower blooms. They and many other birds take up residence here during the summer months. We have cardinals, wrens, chickadees…and I’ll never forget the first time a barn swallow swooped down near me when I was on the riding mower–a little too close for comfort, I thought. I didn’t know much about them, but learned they feed on the wing. They really weren’t trying to dive bomb me, they were just looking for a meal. Now, I welcome the swallows to keep me company as I mow. We’ve also had a northern mockingbird the past two summers. They are real characters, imitating the sounds of other birds, fluttering crazily, high in the treetops. We even had a family of mallard ducks on the creek this year. They are wonderful parents, herding their ducklings to safety when we’d wander outside. In the Fall, another favorite of mine returns–the bluebirds. The first time I saw them I was thrilled. I’d never seen them around here before, so I grabbed my camera and started snapping pictures. They are such a beautiful shade of blue and the color on their chest is a very pale peach. The bluebirds love to perch on our wooden fence or on any structure they can find in the garden. They usually return in late September, early October. Just when I think I’ve missed them, there they are waiting to surprise me. They only stay for a short time, a week or so, but they always return. One other I can count on as Fall begins to fade into Winter, is the harrier. In the country you see a lot of hawks, but when I first spotted the harrier, I knew right away, this was a bit different from a hawk. Hawks typically circle, then dive on their prey. This bird circles, then hovers about 10 feet above the ground, then dives on its prey. They are big, beautiful birds. They have markings similar to a hawk, but the one distinguishing mark is the white band across the rump–that really helped me to identify it. We have to be on the look out for it, though, because we have a very small dog, only 5 pounds, that a harrier could snatch quickly away. So, just as sure as the seasons come and go, so do the birds in my area. I’m always anxious to greet them when they return each year, all in their own time, their own season.