As I was sitting on our porch in the sunny south, I observed some of the birds returning for the coming season. I began to reflect on the days in my youth when we were so thrilled to see our first robin marking the end of winter.
I began to reminisce about school days when students would report having seen a robin. It usually spelled out a little challenge when our teacher would ask us to report any other sightings of birds returning to our area.
The usual questions were "Where did you see it?; How many were there?; Were they preparing to build a nest?" we also noted any other pertinent observations such as colour.
Some of the earliest sightings reported were Canada geese, red winged blackbirds, scarlet tanagers (a rarity), cowbirds, goldfinches, bronze grackles, wrens, hummingbirds and the list went on and on.
Next we were asked to look up the various birds' habitats such as where they build their nests, what the nest looks like and what habitat a particular species preferred.
As boys were more apt to do, we would climb trees and observe the size, colour and description of eggs a given bird would lay.
Naturally, the teacher would set aside a place on the blackboard to keep a list of our reports and give us a few extra marks on our science report for our trouble. The lessons we learned were well worth it.
As an addendum, I must relate a story about a late gentleman by the name of Alton Hughes, who was a great bird lover.
After he retired from the CNR, Hughes, a resident of Fair Avenue in Lindsay, decided to build a number of birdhouses for the bluebird that was on the verge of extinction.
Alton approached a number of relatives and friends up Lochlin way and asked permission to place his birdhouses on their property. Naturally, he had help from all he approached and yours truly used to help clean them out after the mating season when the birdhouses were no longer occupied.
Ah, thanks to those who love the beauty of nature.