We reached a milestone in May. A Savannah sparrow made a late appearance at our bird bath. It wasn't the first time we'd ever seen a Savannah sparrow, just the first time at our home in the Texas Hill Country. We broke out the good glasses and a nice bottle of wine.
We've had visits from birds that are more rare...
The endangered Golden-Cheeked Warbler, which nests only in ashe junipers with a diameter of at least 22 inches. It's breeding range is limited to a small section of Central Texas.
A pair of Crested Caracaras, flying across our street. We didn't expect to see tropical falcons found in the US only in the very southern portions of Texas, Arizona and Florida.
And our favorite, the Painted Bunting, the most beautiful songbird to fly in the United States. Painted buntings have never been common and their numbers are declining now from loss of habitat in the US, Mexico and Central America. But they're doing well at our place...for the last three summers we've watched female Painted Buntings show young ones how to hunt bugs, find seeds and bathe in our birdbaths.
I guess our excitement at the Savannah sparrow says we live quietly. And that we're bird-nerds. But the sighting was also a coming of age here in our Texas home, # 80 on our house bird list.
Eighty species is a powerful number for a one acre plot. An amazing number. An awesome number. A number that gives hope for survival. For them, and for us.