ABOUT 25 YEARS AGO I was invited to give a program on birds for a garden club meeting just south of Lake George on a family farm. Hostess Ann was a friend of a friend and I had heard she had beautiful gardens which became her passion after her husband died. There was a good turnout for the program, and we all brought our brown bag lunches with the promise of Ann’s homemade cookies and iced tea for dessert. It was a big old farmhouse with a large living room overlooking the yard and a homemade wooden flagpole. Ann’s adult son made it and it was hinged at the bottom so it could be lowered to raise or lower the flag. As we looked at it a tree swallow landed on the top. Appropriate for a bird talk, Ann quietly commented that the pole was a favorite spot for birds to perch. Ann had great respect for our country’s flag, so she permanently removed the flag from the pole to save it from possible desecration by the birds. It was fun to review the relationships of birds to gardens such as pollination by hummingbirds, insect control and distribution of seeds. We got a tour of her beautiful gardens of old-fashioned roses, phlox, iris, daisies, herbs and more. We took home gifts of dried seeds she had saved. It was an enjoyable day, and I was invited back several times. Today I was looking over the front flower bed and counting the ever-increasing blooms when I looked up to see a pair of tree swallows on a bird feeder pole in my yard. I immediately thought of Ann, mentally flashed back to a similar summer day, and smiled. It is that time of year when birds have already raised one batch of young and may be getting ready to raise another. Species of birds likely to do this are eastern phoebe, black-capped chickadees, bluebirds, some sparrows, house finches and more.
If you have bluebird boxes or other nest boxes these should be checked to be sure they are free of birds and then cleaned out, so they are ready for another nesting cycle. My male Eastern Bluebird is already singing to attract a mate. It is a lovely sound to hear on a gorgeous summer day. I am writing on my porch with a cup of coffee, thinking about what a fortunate person I am, and fondly remembering my gardener friend Ann on her Lake George farm all those years ago.