Maryland skies filled with joys for enthusiastic bird-watchers


January 25, 1996|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

UNTIL I moved to the central county, I thought bird-watching was something other people did. But Maryland skies offer so much: iridescent hummingbirds in the summer, migrating geese in the autumn, busy winter birds when all else is still.

I've become a bird-watcher. It's a natural evolution for an animal lover. All I need is a good bird book, a pair of binoculars and some bird seed. It's a lot easier and cheaper than other animal pursuits, such as show dogs or tropical fish.

To attract more birds than you can possibly watch, all you have to do is provide a steady supply of food and water.

During the colder months, the sheltered area under the tall cedar is alive with busy diners from dawn to sunset.

Our winter guest list includes jays, cardinals, sparrows, wrens, doves, mockingbirds and the orange-flanked towhees that at first glance look like robins.

Occasionally, a brilliant red-headed woodpecker tries his luck as a ground feeder, but the catbirds and mockingbirds are satisfied to take their meals in the hollies and pyracanthas.

The high point of my bird-watching career happened last week. Out of the blue, a handsome young hawk landed in the cherry tree that hugs the back porch.

With my copy of Peterson's "Birds of North America," I noted the chocolate, tear-drop shaped feathers on his white chest and identified him as an immature sharp-shinned hawk. I loved his keen stare and his regal body, ignoring the fact that his intention was to dine on several of my regular guests.

Was this to be a Wild Kingdom moment?

As it turned out, the other birds disappeared the moment he appeared.

Binoculars pressed to my face, I watched while he shifted his point of observation to a soft branch of the cedar. Then, with youthful impatience at finding no meal, he lifted off.

He returned the next day, and he left again with an empty stomach.

3' Life is tough for a young predator.

ASPIRE's new board

The Association for Severna Park Improvement, Renewal and Enhancement Inc. (ASPIRE) announces its 1996-1997 officers and board of trustees.

New officers are Pat Troy, chairman; George Moran, vice chairman for finance; Maggie Miller, vice chairwoman for development; Dan Nataf, vice chairman for programs; Penny Hopkins, vice chairwoman for public relations; and Pan Henel, secretary.

New board members are Mary Gable, Gale Gillespie, Jim Meyer, Susan Still and Debi Wells.

Board members include Skip Carr, Gee Cosper, Art Ebersberger, Jack Feick, Mattie Harris, Scott Jay, Judy Jenkins, Gordon Loetz, Charles Madison, Ellen McGee, Earl Schaffer, Elaine Stana, Ron Ward, Dennis Wells, Paul Wood, Linda Zahn and Mitch Zemo. For information about the group, call 647-7231.

Bereavement groups

Hospice of the Chesapeake offers continuing bereavement groups for county residents. All groups and one-on-one counseling at the hospice are free. Group sizes are limited.

E9 For more information, call Betty Asplund at 987-2129.

Catholic Schools Week

Archbishop Spalding High School will celebrate Catholic Schools Week from Sunday to Feb. 4.

* Spalding invites the community to help celebrate the second annual Spalding Talent Show at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2.

The show is sponsored by the school chorus, under the direction of Beth Hough. Tickets are $3 for adults, $2 for students. Proceeds benefit the chorus.

* Spalding's National Honor Society and its student government will hold a family liturgy pancake breakfast at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 4.

* Deadline for orders for Spalding's grapefruit and orange sale is Feb. 2.

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