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Those who love their pets tend to enjoy all animals. Our animal owners are no different. Check in on News-Herald staffers Robin Palmer and Cheryl Sadler as they share their own animal tales and announce upcoming events in Lake and Geauga counties.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A bird in the hand

There’s a place at North Chagrin Reservation that many birding enthusiast know well. Deep in the woods is an overlook where the birds will come to eat from your outstretched hand. Each year I hike back there with a friend in tow so they can experience it for themselves.

In the winter stillness save for the wind rushing through the hemlocks, when the snow blankets the earth and food is scarce, these birds that are familiar with human contact will come to dine.

As you approach this place, they cling to bare tree limbs, close to the path you trod in on, almost in anticipation, knowing that you come bearing nourishment.

You don’t have to wait too long before these sweet creatures -- chickadees, tufted titmice, and if you’re lucky, a white-breasted nuthatch -- will descend from their perches and land, weightless on your fingertips, long enough to take some seed and fly away. If you’re patient they’ll return for more.

From time to time I’ve tried this at home without success. The birds in my backyard are wary, not used to human interaction. But one fall day last year the feeders were empty the birds were hungry and I had some time to kill. I went out and poured seed into my hand and waited.

The chickadees came and, finally taking a leap of faith, they landed on my hand to eat. It is in these simple things, this direct connection with nature, that one can experience sheer joy.

-- Maribeth Joeright


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