Our funky little house at Karma Acres Farm sits well off the road, and has a huge thicket of overgrown azaleas , blueberry bushes, vines, and small magnolia, holly, and oak trees in front. This thicket grows amongst the old, tall pines we have for privacy, and we have left this area pretty much untouched so far. It is here that Freebird lives (see previous Note) and, because of the dense vegetation, has escaped predation so far. Even our little hunter dachshund-mix, Maggie, has not been able to find him in the thicket.
The house has a screened porch, overlooking this thicket, which we dearly love. When we first saw the property, the porch was nearly engulfed by azaleas. Most people who plant them never think about how large they get in maturity, and often plant them right up next to the house. One of the first things we did was remove those closest to the porch, and have now created a small yard that we have fenced, and are keeping mowed, surrounding the house. This gives some open space between the thicket and the porch. Because I wanted a true, old-fashioned, southern porch, I have outfitted it with antique wicker furniture that I got at an estate sale many years ago – the old, sturdy kind that weighs a ton, including a sofa long enough to lie down on and, of course, a rocker! I have been carting this furniture around for years, waiting for the day there would be a Karma Acres Farm. Now, it is perfect for the little bird-watching porch that overlooks the numerous birdfeeders we have placed in the front yard. Comfort rules for both pets and people, since the dogs love to hang out with us there as well.
We have been enjoying a parade of birds at our feeders almost from day one. All during our house rehab, we kept the birdfeeders filled, trying to not be too distracted by all the birds that were stopping by. Now that the rehab work is mostly finished, we finally moved our birdbaths in this weekend, and are calling this front area the “bird spa”. There is a nearly constant panorama of bird activity. I remember reading that birds are as attracted to water as they are to food, and have found this to be the case everywhere I have lived. With the addition of water, we get both seed-eaters and non-seed eating birds visiting this area. In the spring we had, literally, hundreds of gold finch and cedar waxwings migrating through. Right now, the cardinals, blue jays, titmice, wrens, towhees, mockingbirds and hummingbirds are all coming to visit in droves. Parents bring their ratty-looking bird-children to the easy pickings of the feeders. The thicket provides them cover and protection, and they venture into our open area for food, water and baths. We get the benefit of a constantly changing view of bird activity from the porch.
Early morning and late afternoon are the most active times. Now that our rehab work is mostly done, we are taking to the porch around 5 PM each afternoon, glass of wine in hand, to enjoy “Bird Hour” We start many mornings with coffee on the same porch to watch the sun come up over the big oak tree and blueberry orchard. This is an epecially busy time for the hummers to tank up after a long night. Our view is up close and personal, and much better than any television show if you ask me!
Years ago, I visited Birdsong Nature Center in Thomasville, Georgia, and enjoyed their “Bird Window”, and I also loved the bird-watching porch at the Asa Wright Nature Center in Trinidad. I vowed that someday I would replicate many of the ideas from these fabulous spots, and so far I am pleased with the results of our efforts. We hope to have Karma Acres Farm become an official Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation, and to continue to add plantings for birds, butterflies and bees. I am excited for the fall bird migration to begin, and look forward to seeing lots of fall warblers…and then painted and indigo bunting in the spring…
(All photos taken from my chair on the porch on Friday afternoon as the sun went down…)