Sycamore Grove Farm, Madison County
I have always been an “outside” person – playing outside until my mother made me come in when it got dark. One of the favorite things about being outside was the birds! I grew up in Central California (way before the area where we farmed was called Silicon Valley). I became really focused on learning how to identify birds while completing my Bachelors in Biology in Illinois. Excited to share my new-found “expertise” with my family, you can imagine my chagrin when I found out that many of the birds that I observed in the Midwest didn’t live in California. The Rocky Mountains are a formidable natural barrier. Some bird guides (notably Sibley Guides) are specific to birds east of or west of this mountain range.
Fast-forward fifty years: my husband and I have a 25-acre farm in Central Virginia that we named Sycamore Grove Farm for all the beautiful sycamores that grow along our borders. The majority of our land is a hay field, which attracts a lot of different kinds of birds: hawks, crows, and blue jays are numerous. We see eastern meadowlarks throughout the year. Three sides of the farm are 50-foot tall cedar trees that rooted from old cedar fence posts. These trees attract cedar waxwings and robins who feast on their berries. We also have a wonderful variety of woodpeckers including the Hairy and Downy woodies, red-bellied and red-headed woodpeckers, northern flickers and several pileated woodpeckers whose silhouette definitely show that birds are the only surviving dinosaurs. Check out a fascinating animated video “Why are birds the only surviving dinosaurs?” on the Natural History Museum website. This museum is based in South Kensington, London and Tring, Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom.
I bird every morning and report my observations on The Cornell Laboratory or Ornithology’s eBird site. Their website (https://ebird.org/home) offers great information on everything about birding: how to identify birds, finding “hotspots” near you (it’s an honor to be listed among my county’s “Top Birders”), and seeing what birds to expect throughout the year in any region or location.
I plan to share some of my special birding experiences in this blog. And I invite you to jump in and share your experiences as well. Birders always love to hear stories about that special sighting – so please join me with your stories and I hope you enjoy mine.
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