Sophie is the older of the two and now attends senior kindergarten every weekday, but at least twice a week Bella comes to visit. She is just three years old, although on the cusp of her fourth birthday. She is entranced by birds and recently has decided that Grandpa Dave needs help keeping a list of the birds in the backyard. Here she is at the window.
She knows the names of most of our backyard visitors and wastes no time in pointing them out. A couple of days ago about twenty-five Pine Siskins Spinus pinus descended on us and have been cleaning out the feeders ever since. This provided great excitement for Bella and she quickly learned a new species.
She was very intently observing them all and pointing out every one to me.
Among her favourites is American Goldfinch Spinus tristis and looking at this handsome male it is not hard to figure its appeal to a little girl.
Chipping Sparrows Spizella passerina don't visit quite as often as some of the other species so it's always a moment of great excitement when one shows up.
Perhaps her greatest excitement of all is reserved for the House Sparrows Passer domesticus now feeding young in the nest box I installed in early spring. She calls the male "the fat bird."
Every coming and going is added to the list; checking it out, she calls it.
American Robin Turdus migratorius is one of the first birds she learned by name and she always enjoys it when one comes to vacuum up the seed spilled by the finches.
We have tried to explain the concept of mourning to her, as in Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura but she can't quite grasp why the bird is sad, and she still thinks of it as a Morning Dove!
When a House Finch Haemorhous mexicanus, Mourning Dove and Pine Siskin are together on the bird bath.......
...... you really have to pay close attention......
...... and add it to the list so that Grandpa Dave won't forget any of the birds that came to visit today.
Thank you Bella for all your help. The lists are on my desk and I am hoping that you will perhaps be one of the new generation of ornithologists about twenty years from now.