Where The Birds Are

“Birdbaths” by Ann Allen

In December each year, many in the country participate in the annual Audubon Christmas bird count. For the last ten years Samarkand has mustered up a dozen willing souls to walk Samarkand’s 16 acres to record the birds seen or heard. Half of their time was spent in Ann and Bob Allen’s Oak Crest garden, over the fence at the far end of the Native Plant Garden, where many species of birds come to visit their bird baths.

In the spring, local birds build their nests on the beams supporting the roof that overhangs part of their patio. Several years ago, when a pair of Dark-eyed Juncos were feeding their nestlings there, a stranger showed up with food in its beak. The Juncos chased off the intruder and then realized that a helper had shown up. The three birds fed the nestlings until they were old enough to leave the nest.

The stranger was a different species, a Pacific Slope Flycatcher with an upright posture and a slender beak for catching insects – a migrant who spent its winter in Southern Mexico. When the fledglings left the nest, the Flycatcher was out of a job. It called repeatedly for its lost family.

Come celebrate early summer at the Native Plant Garden, where you can enjoy orange poppies, blue and purple verbena, iris and fragrant sage. Stop at the sandstone fountain for wildflowers, birds and grand views.

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