My bird feeders have been busy with all kinds of forest fowl lately. No doubt stocking up for the big mating season ahead.

The male Goldfinches have shed their drab winter gray for a coat of brilliant yellow and black feathers. The thistle socks hanging from the dogwoods serve as their local diner and hang out. As I sit here on a rainy Saturday, not even the contstant drizzle can keep them away.

Tufted Titmice and Eastern Chickadees join the new pair of Cardinals at the regular feeder, while Dark-eyed Junkos and Mourning Doves feast on seed that’s fallen onto the ground below.

Spring is here and all is well.

The birds seem to like me and my little backyard bird cafe. I wasn’t going to put out feeders this year because once you start feeding birds, you have to keep on doing so and I didn’t want to commit to that, what with so many cats and a dog to feed already.

But back in January, when the ground was frozen solid and everything was stark and gray, a couple of chickadees and a titmouse came and sat on my back after day..chirping at if to say, “Hey lady, we’re hungry, do something.” So I off to the store I went and bought two feeders and have been feeding them ever since.

Last Sunday, something emptied the feeders overnight. I spent the weekend covering a local story and spent all Sunday editing the piece for air on Monday. I had noticed the empty feeders when I took Midgie for her morning walk but forgot to fill them.

Long about noon, something was hitting my bedroom window where I typically work, laptop placed on my breakfast tray. I looked up and it was a titmouse…flying from the tree branch to my window sill and back again. He seemed upset and kept flying back and forth. “Hey lady, fill the feeders!”

So dutifully, I stopped my important work and did another kind of important work..I filled the feeders. The harrassment at my window sill stopped.

Yesterday, I tossed Midgie in the car, grabbed my gear and headed off early in the rain to do two interviews for a story I’m doing on rabies . It was about two o’clock and I was on the last leg toward home when I spotted what looked like a little chickadee in the middle of the road. I actually drove over it then looked in my rear view mirror. ‘Did I see what I thought I saw?’

I decided to turn around and go back. ‘If it is a bird, then it has to be dead,’ I decided. As I slowed down to take a closer look, sure enough. It was a live chickadee huddled in the middle of the road, gripping the asphalt with its tiny tallons for all it was worth. ‘Well, this looks like a detour to Dr. Hitchock’s,’ I thought to myself as I got out of my car. Dr. Hitchcock, a nearby vet, is the only vet in the area certified by the DNR as a wildlife rehabilitator.

As I got closer, I expected to see an injured bird, but he looked fine…he just wasn’t moving, except to look around. Without thinking, I pried his little feet from the pavement and scooped the little guy up in my hands and got back in my car, thankful no cars had come by in either direction.

Sitting there behind the wheel, I examined him more closely. He fluttered a bit, then hopped on my finger, like a trained canary and sat there quietly, looking around but not moving. Surprised and pleased, I turned the SUV around and headed home. He sat on my finger the rest of the way home.

“Don’t worry little bird, you’ll be safe in my backyard,” I tried to reassure him. Even the sound of my voice didn’t frighten him. He just sat quietly on my finger, looking around as if following some unheard, unseen direction…like a little passenger on a big bus.

When I pulled up to the house, he hopped onto the dashboard, but I was able to get him back on my finger. We walked to the back of the house near the feeders and he suddenly flew up onto a tree branch. I watched him for some time and slowly he seemed to recover himself. Then he started chirping and I knew he’d be ok. “This is a good place to hang out,” I told him as I walked away. “Plenty of free food here. Just mind the cats.”