First of all, I really enjoyed reading all the stories about the birds! There must be a book here! I have always loved birds. I give my parents credit for this, as we always had bird feeders around the house and bird identification books to look up new birds to see what they were. We kept records each season as to what birds were visiting us. We had a feeder at our kitchen sink window, and learned to recognize certain birds because of their behaviors or particular markings/color patterns. The bird that stands out in my memory is Henry, a purple finch. He had one leg, which had a band on it. We gradually were able to read the numbers and called to find out his history, and were able to provide new information on him. He came to us for several years, and would announce his arrival, or his desire for more seeds, by sitting on the outside thermometer and tapping on the window. It usually happened early morning, before we were awake. (I credit him with teaching me the pleasure of getting up early and watching the earth wake up!) We would tap back to him and he would act all excited, going to the feeder and waiting patiently till we put more seed in it. Friends would laugh at us about our bird fever, but they too enjoyed Henry! We periodically rescued birds that we found injured or sick, and had some success in recuperating them, or turning them over to the local Audabond group. In my adulthood I carried on the tradition set by my parents and taught my daughter about birds, and all wildlife. Her friends also thought we were slightly nuts! One day while a friend was visiting my daughter came running to me yelling in excitement..“Mum! I think there is a Cerrulean Warbler in the lilac tree!” She read the bird books too, as indeed there was one, which was unusual in our DownEast location, I tried to rescue an injured seagull one day, taking him to the U. Of Me. at Machias ornithologist, who was also a wild animal rehaber. I felt sad that the bird did’nt survive (I was told they do not do well in captivity), but appreciated the experience of wrapping him up in my jacket to stabilize his wing, and driving with him down the road, having people do double takes as they saw this seagull looking out the window at him! I was amazed at how absolutely beautiful he was up close! Other encounters were more successful – a nest full of chimney swifts that fell into my husbands office were taken to a bird sanctuary and later released. My father, who had no patience with children, had incredible patience with wildlife, established relationships with several birds at our camp in the woods. Chickadees would come to him and search his shirt pockets or take sunflower seeds held between his teeth. He built a porch onto our camp, but during the construction he stopped building one spring because a cardinal had built a nest in the corner of the rafters, and he didn’t want to disturb her and her eggs! I have raised chickens for about 30 years and they never cease to excite me! I still feed the birds and enjoy watching their antics. I had a crow couple build a nest in a pine tree in back of my garage, I found that from the upstairs window I could look down into the nest. Several years this same couple would raise one or two babies. One year Jr. didn’t want to leave the nest regardless of how much the parents tried to coax him out. They flew off to seek food- he stayed in the nest and cried all day long till they returned. One day they had had enough – I saw one parent fly up, with feet forward, literally boot Jr. out of the nest! He tumbled/flapped to the ground, making the worst noises! He then fluttered around a bit, tried out his wings and flew about five feet up into a small apple tree, where he remained for about a week. He cawed the most pitiful sounds, his parents still left and searched for food, returning to feed their child who was almost as big as he was! I mowed all around the tree, talking to him and he never flew away. Again I watched one day as a parent reared up and knocked him off his branch. This time they kept after him until he flew after them! I was glad to see him go…the neighborhood was quiet again! I have two cockatiels now, adopted from the Westbrook Animal Refuge League. They are much loved, and even my husband who reluctantly agreed to them, appreciates them. They sit on his chest, near his beard and go to sleep. I can’t imagine life with out them (or my two rescued Border Collies, Max and Jessie, or our rescued cat, Annie.) Murray, our male cockatiel is right now sitting on top of the bathroom vanity, whilstling his version of an Eros Ramazotti song playing on Pandora! Norah Jones excites him, too! My favorite experience with a wild bird happend several years ago. My husband was driving our 4 wheeler up and down our long driveway hauling gravel to fill in ruts left from spring mud. He came inside and said a ruffed grouse has been flying with him! I said “sure”, he challenged me to come outside, and sure enough, as soon as he started the 4 wheeler up, the bird came out of the woods and flew beside him. Then as my husband was repairing something underneath our camper trailer, the bird joined him, hopping on tools, talking to him. Later as he mowed the lawn, the bird either flew around or hopped along the ground, once even hopping onto the lawn mower going for a ride! Gradually Byrrd, as I named him would share fruit with me, he would sit on the back of our garden bench, chat with me, even sit on my lap when invited. When he was done with visiting his topnot would stand up straight, he would peck at my ears or head, and then fly away. Each time we would come home, about halfway down the drive, he would fly beside the car, wait for us to get out, and visit with us. He waited on our deck, sometimes eating the bird seed in the feeder. He grew very comfortable visiting even with our dogs…they knew they didn’t eat our friends! He loved to groom us, inspect our clothing, and chatter with us. When doing chores, he was a frequent companion. If I didn’t see him, I’d call, and hear him flutter/fly through the trees and bushes till he arrived, all out of breath, but acting so happy to see us! Gradually all our friends and family, and other visitors had Byrrd stories to tell. My son in law plowed our drive one winter when my husband couldn’t, using a commercial plow that had both a plow and drag, front and back. Rick reported looking in the rear view mirror and doing a double take as Byrrd, perched on the back drag, holding on for life, dodging snow as he rode along! An UPS delivery driver arrived at my house, called me to tell me he didn’t dare get out of the truck as there was some crazy bird that had followed him down the driveway, and was walking/flying aroung his truck.! I reassured him it was just Byrrd, and he wanted just to visit. I demonstrated what I meant, and gave the driver some blueberries to feed Byrrd! I think the driver had some explaining to do why this particular stop took him so long! My brother was the last to meet Byrrd…his comment as he fed strawberries to him was “Pinch me, just pinch me! this is the most awesome experience!” I have great photos of Bryyd, and miss his presence. I can still see him, after visiting with us, heading back to his home, looking back over his shoulder to us, talking to us the whole time. We had to encourage him to go home sometimes as it was past his bedtime, and safety time as the night birds would be coming out soon. He always seemed relucntant to say goodbye. He flew beside us, or hitched a ride on the cargo rack! He would fly away as soon as we reached the main road. Unfortunately, a hawk attacked him as he sat in a nearby tree. We were all very sad to lose him. Our neighbors also missed him as he had graced their home as well, but were sort of afraid of him. (?) I researched this bird/human relationship and found that there are numerous stories of people having friendships with Ruffed gouse…seems that they are attracted initially to the rythmic sounds that our machines make, maybe similar to the drumming sound they make with their wings during mating. I tried to be respectful of his boundaries, and careful to let him set the limits. I was curious to find where he called home, and figured out that he had a place under a tall spruce that had a thicket of bramblebushes underneath. Lots of winterberry bushes, Partridge berry vines, Alder bushes grew wild nearby. We decided he needed the berries from the several high bush blueberry bushes we had planted more than we did! Over the last few years we have seen other grouse, and wondered if they were his offspring. We have not had the same experience with them as we did Byrrd, but feel blessed just to have them around. We have mixed feelings about the hawks that have moved in to our neighborhood as it puts all birds at risk. While I understand about the cycle of life, I still feel protective of the smaller birds…and our poultry. We lost several guineas, our deer tic clean-up crew, to hawks. I have decided not to let my birds free range because of the hawks, even though I’ve been told just to shoot the hawks. Can’t do it…they are just doing what hawks do… Thanks for the opportunity to share my bird stories!