"The Bird of Paradise," by Linda Ellis, is the second in the Bauhinia series. In The Bird of Paradise, the second book, we return to the idyllic country of St. Petersburg and its suburbs. It's an idyllic time for a family vacation, even if, as my main character reminds us, it is the summer of discontent. Bird lovers can't help but notice that all the birds seem happier. Birds are singing joyfully, flocking the yards and streets, and the people are happy too.
What's so unusual about this idyllic paradise? Unlike the wilds of Southeast Asia or Australia, this paradise isn't populated. No one is around to kill birds unless they're carrying diseases. Also, because it's so isolated, birds have a keen sense of when and where their food supply is most likely to be found. They can "tell" when there's food around by the sound of the seeds breaking, or by the sight of predators.
St. Petersburg in Florida, however, is home to birds of all kinds. There's no shortage of habitat for birds of all sizes and colors. Because of the lack of human interference, the kinds of birds who visit the area - like the Royal Terns and Carolina Parakeets, two species of the common towhee - are nearly perfect. This is one of the reasons why I love visiting Florida, whether it's on vacation or visiting from out of town: there's always something new and wonderful to see and to do.
So what is the secret to having a Garden Paradise? Why aren't there more Garden Parades? I don't know. I haven't found the secret. But I will say this. If your garden is as beautiful and idyllic as mine is, you're far from needing a Bird Paradise Tour.
I use the term "Garden Paradise" somewhat loosely. Of course, I'm a big fan of gardening and I'd have to say that my garden is indeed a paradise on many levels. I have grown cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, strawberries and a whole array of flowers for edible things. I even have a nice little vegetable fountain in place, filled with water from the gutter down below and surrounded by water melon and frog tadpoles - yes, frogs!
One thing I do in my Garden Paradise is have songbirds stop by at my bird feeders. I've noticed that my male finches, at each visit, will sit on the edge of my stand and listen to a bird song, sometimes for several minutes. These feathered friends are truly patrons of the garden. They come to eat, they nest in the foliage of my plants, and they sit on my windowsill waiting for me to show them where to go.
A visit from a bird in the family is even better. Take my little yellow chick, Rufus, for instance. She sits happily on my little perch on the couch, watching the world go by. A cat also visits us on a regular basis - her beautiful and lovable Titmouse.
Of course, birds are not the only creatures that make my day - there's always the sun, fresh air, and a nice cup of coffee in hand. I've learned that a true bird watcher doesn't sit on the couch and watch the news all day; what's important is to pay attention when it's happening. Birds and the places they frequent are as interesting to a bird watcher as a rocket or an airplane is to an astronaut. They lend color and beauty to our lives and we should cherish every moment of it.
To a bird watcher, birds are a delight. I especially love feeding time because of all the different kinds of birds and brightly colored garden feeders that I can see flying around on my windowsill. Sometimes they even appear in my flowers! In addition to the wonderful array of wild birds, I also enjoy having butterflies and hummingbirds in my garden - I love watching their different patterns and colors and being able to watch their wings move across the trees.
It's also really satisfying to be able to share my garden with birds. As I mentioned before, I have several feeders strategically placed throughout my yard and across my patio that attract many species of birds. It's great fun to be able to spend time in the garden and listen to the various flappers and doves, finches and chickadees chirping and singing. It's also rewarding to know that I'm helping out nature and making a difference-and it's not just a good feeling, it's healthy to know that I'm providing food for garden wildlife and making my yard more attractive to them!
When choosing where to place your bird feeders and bird houses, you need to do some research ahead of time. Know exactly what you'd like your feeder to look like and the size you want it to be. Make sure your bird house will hold up to the weather and make sure it's installed securely so there's no risk of the birds flying off or breaking through the bars. Finally, it's important to consider the fact that many birds, particularly those that are rarer or which require special diets, won't feed on foods that humans eat. If you're not sure about where to put certain types or colors of bird feeders, do some research ahead of time.