The first hummingbird landed and partook of the sugar water at 2:30 p.m. April 16 — one day late. We think they may have been delayed by the heavy rains in Texas.

We had put the feeders out three days before because they have come early in past years, but this year they were late. We boiled some fresh water and put it out, and they have been eating ever since.

So the hummingbirds are here, and spring has arrived.

Nearly everybody that comments on this column says they like to read about our critters. We don’t have as many critters as we had in the past, but there are some and I will report on them to you right now.

One day we had turkeys, about four. They leisurely walked across the yard. They usually come in the morning. There was no male. They calmly ate and pecked and hunted for food as they devoured the insects across the yard.

A short time later, a male appeared. He was all by himself, and he was in his regalia, taking a real strut all across the yard all by himself. We surmised that he may have been practicing to attract the females the next time he saw them.

Neighbors Phyllis and David have taken over the job of feeding the deer. Every afternoon, if we are on the back porch at the right time, we see the deer going up from the woods in a line, calm and quiet. We have seen as many as nine.

They don’t pay attention to us at all, and we figure they are going for their supper at Phyllis’ house, where she has plenty of food and water.

Luckily this year we have only two or three squirrels. In past years, it was more than we could count, and they always went for the tulips in the yard. The squirrels and the deer would snap them off and leave the bloom on the ground.

This year we feed the squirrels bread. I know the people at Kroger must think two people eat a lot of bread, but they don’t know about the squirrels. I have given them plenty of bread every morning and have told them there will be no more if they nip off our tulips again. We wonder if they understand us because they have gone nowhere near a row of lovely red tulips that stayed beautiful for nearly two weeks for us to enjoy.

The squirrels must have understood, because now they are waiting for me every morning when I get up. They are sitting on the patio watching and

waiting.

Tuesday morning, one of them took a piece of bread and went up the tree and into a hole. She must have had a baby in there.

Then, of course, there has been competition from the birds. This morning, I watched a female cardinal just outside my window perched on a limb and eating a piece of bread.

We have plenty of birds who make plenty of noise until the hour of darkness, letting us know that nature is still alive and entertaining us.

MARY D. FERGUSON is a New Era columnist. Readers can correspond with Ferguson by writing to her at 4345 Pembroke Road, Hopkinsville, KY, 42240. Opinion Editor Jennifer P. Brown transcribed this column for Ferguson.

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