By Tom Loucks

Our birds are back! Well, most of them, so what a pleasant surprise! We have no idea what has been happening, but for several weeks we hadn’t seen a single bird at our house, and this morning (October 15th) many of them returned and all at once. Seriously, in the space of 2-3 minutes.

Normally we count two spotted towhees and five magpies as residents of our backyard, and we always see a complement of black-capped chickadees, red- and white-breasted nuthatches, house finches, robins, and from time to time the bushtits. And, in winter, the dark-eyed junco. None of these have been seen for weeks. Nor have we heard them. Nothing.

This morning, mid-morning, two blue jays showed up at the feeder (we had seen them in the past as they flew by and stopped in a tree, but never at our feeder), then the chickadees, then at least one red-breasted nuthatch, and then three magpies. The magpies were flitting about the yard, and everyone else was at the feeder. And a solitary junco. Then, a minute or two went by, and five robins showed up at our bird bath. The robins don’t compete at the feeder, so why did they show up simultaneously with everyone else? It’s a mystery to us, but we now remain optimistic that the towhees will show up (or, as is more commonly the case, we might hear them rummaging through the bushes).

We had had serious misgivings when we thought back that one of our neighbors had been spraying trees, and, fortunately, we never got to the point of pointing fingers. Whatever it was, most of our species are back, if not yet in full attendance. We do note, however, that we haven’t seen any house finches, and aren’t sure if they succumbed to whatever was ailing them this past spring. Nevertheless, we are grateful for the apparent return of most of our friendly denizens.