Near my stationary bike is a bird box which is fastened to one of the 42 pines trees in our front yard. In years past the nesting box has been occupied by titmice, but this year a brown-headed nuthatch pair claimed it. The small birds are busy with their brood, and I marvel as I watch the parents come and go with morsels in their beaks. As I ride for my morning workout, I watch them and listen as they call to each other.
Yet the front yard with its many tall pine trees is not all life. After last weekend’s storm, I have found five robin hatchlings under various trees that had been blown out of their nests high in the pines. This is a yearly result of spring storms, but even after my fifth season of finding small bodies on the ground, it still saddens me. However, during such times I find that the words of Qohelet ease the sorrow: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
Riding and watching the nuthatches feed their hatchings, I see a robin fly into a tree under which I found one small robin body. Curiously I watch it and try to locate its nest high in the pine tree, but I lose sight of it in the green needles. But wait, there is more life on the ground under the same tree.
A red-bellied woodpecker attacks the ground. It pecks furiously and tuffs of dirt arch into the air to land nearby. The searcher stands in one place and pecks, then hops to another spot and pecks again and again. It assaults the ground, puffs of dirt fly about, and I resolve to later inspect that postage stamp of yard under a pine tree. But as suddenly as it appeared the woodpecker leaves to search for some morsel in other earth or dead wood.
Robins. Woodpeckers. Brown-headed nuthatches. So much living wrapped in the sweet, spring fragrance of the Ligustrum across our road. From its topmost branches a mockingbird proves Atticus Finch correct, and during my morning workout I am privileged to observe so much life in the pine forest we call our front yard.