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Backyard birds scarce; remembering Pearl Harbor

Carl Sandburg, a famous American writer and poet, once wrote, "There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud."

I am writing on a dreary Wednesday morning; it has been raining for almost three days. If anyone were in the mood to roll around in the mud, this would be a good day for it — except for the cold temperatures.

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The backyard birds have been scarce for the past couple days, but now that the rain has subsided they are beginning to drop in at the feeders to see what morsels they might find. The squirrels have come out from hiding in their cozy nests to compete with our feathered friends for food. Tomorrow's sunshine will be a warm and welcome sight.

Today juncos and white-throated sparrows are hopping about on the ground under the feeders as they forage for seeds and other tidbits. A single white-breasted nuthatch is climbing about on the covered platform feeder and seems more interested in performing its acrobatic moves than eating anything.

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House finches and goldfinches, the perching birds, seem to have settled themselves at the feeding ports of the tube feeders where they dine on black oil sunflower seeds. Chickadees and titmice fly in, grab a bite, and fly off to a nearby perch where they crack open the seed, let the shaft fall, and eat the good part. Sometimes, they briefly interrupt one of the finches from its perch to steal a seed from the portal.

Few other species have ventured into my back yard today although a mourning dove pecked its way across the garden bed and then disappeared. Perhaps the sunshine and a fresh suet cake will attract a few woodpeckers tomorrow — downies and red-bellied woodpeckers, for sure.

Today marks the 73rd anniversary of the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor — a surprise attack on the United States Navy that crippled our fleet and brought our country actively into World War II. As of result of this Sunday morning attack, many U.S. ships were damaged or destroyed along with most Hawaii-based combat planes, and more than 2,400 Americans were killed.

The official Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade will be held today in Honolulu, Hawaii, to honor those who gave their lives for our country that day. In addition, the survivors of Pearl Harbor who are still living will be honored.

Through the cooperative efforts of the Federal Aviation Commission, the state of Hawaii, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1972. Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for maintaining the national wildlife refuges on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Many volunteers over the years, including Navy personnel and their families, have given their time to help with efforts to enhance the wildlife habitat for Hawaiian water birds, migratory birds, and endangered bird species including Hawaiian stilt, Hawaiian duck, Hawaiian coot, and Hawaiian moorhen.

The holiday season is upon us, and for those of us who didn't get an early start, there is still work to be done to prepare for the festivities. In less than three weeks, Santa will be soaring like an eagle as he and his reindeer travel around the world delivering toys and holiday happiness to children in all the lands. If only it could be true — that children everywhere would be blessed by the loving Spirit of the Christmas season.

Sue Yingling is a Times outdoors writer. Her column appears every other Sunday. Reach her at 410-857-7896 or sports@carrollcountytimes.com.

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