Of Winter Birds and Books

I had some fine winter birding today without even leaving the house. A few birds caught my eye as I was folding clothes this afternoon—a small flock of robins! I haven’t seen many robins since early September, so it was nice to see several. (While most robins move further south for the winter, a smallish number, about 10%, overwinter here.) I am hoping this flock stays in the neighborhood all winter. There’s nothing to bring a smile to your face in the winter like a flock of robins.

I watched the robins for quite a while. And then I noticed one that had a—what? Wait—a yellow band on the end of the tail? Really? I grab the binoculars at the top of the stairs, and sure enough, exactly what I thought: a cedar waxwing! But only one? How odd. Where you see one, usually there are several. Sometimes dozens. Of course I kept watching. And true to form, I spotted several more.

Cedar waxwings are not uncommon, but neither do I see them often around the house, so that was a special treat.

I looked closely at each waxwing, hoping one would turn out to be the much more elusive Bohemian waxwing, but no such luck. No complaints on that count, though.

Later in the back yard, I had cardinals (two male, one female), blue jays, and, for a brief period, a singing robin (not so very common in November and a lovely bit of cheer on a grey day).

For over a week I have had a small flock of cardinals visiting my feeders and bird bath, but recently the (heated) bird bath went on the fritz and I haven’t seen them in the last few days. I got a new heated bird bath, but then I was having trouble with the outlet (not so very bright not to check that first), but I think I may have gotten it fixed. Tomorrow will tell (it’s getting down to 17 degrees tonight).

And while I was watching the birds out the window, I decided it was finally time to compile all my lists of books read over the years into one spreadsheet. Right now, some are in a three-ring binder, some are lists in Word, and some are still in my desk calendars (which is where I track it through the year). I’m kind of excited about this and have already started. I have decades of lists of books that I’ve read. A good winter project.

When I went to get the three-ring binder, I discovered I had not written down the first names of any of the authors in the first year. This did not surprise me. But what horrified me is that I continued this. I didn’t bother to record the author’s first name for SEVEN years. The lists do evolve over time. After a few years I start adding book ratings. Years after that, I start making those ratings more consistent. And at some point, I started adding the length of the book.

And now, the next evolution: the searchable spreadsheet. All those titles in one place. Imagine!

I’m kind of excited about the whole thing. I’ve already done the first year. A fine trip down memory lane. (Wow, I was really into mysteries!)