Stephanie shares memories of her grandfather, Albert Behnke (founder of Behnke's), and his love for spring-blooming bulbs. He planted so many varieties at his home gardens, he would use them as a showroom for customers!
What is it about watching birds that is so fascinating to us? It seems the older I get, the more we watch them. Maybe it’s because I’m not as busy raising children, or just that my husband is constantly calling my attention to the different birds that have laid eggs or are building nests. We’re on our 3rd clutch of bluebirds this summer and have been so very happy with our success in keeping the wrens out of the bluebird nesting boxes. We have three bluebird houses on our property but it looks like the only one they like is near our house. Or maybe those pesky wrens beat them to the other houses.
The robins came back again this year and built a nest in our tree out front. It was a lot of fun watching the little ones hatch and grow. Have you ever seen the fledglings when mom pushes them out of the nest and “plop!” they’re on the grass trying to figure out what to do? This is when the parent birds are the loudest. I imagine they’re urging the little ones to “hop! hop!” or spread their wings and fly away. But their biggest concern is: “DANGER DANGER! Humans coming out again to look at the babies, to point and show grandchildren the tiny little birds!” Or even more danger when the old cat comes out to see what’s going on. Luckily for the baby birds, our cat is well fed and totally ignores them as she sleeps under the hosta leaves. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
My mother, Sonja Behnke Festerling, has always loved bird watching. While growing up she always had bird books and binoculars on the table by the window. Now she enjoys just watching the birds each day while they play in front of her. They are fed very well each morning and by the time I arrive, the feeder is pretty much empty. She has blue jays, robins, bluebirds, finches, mourning doves and of course hawks, just waiting for their next meal. With all the bird food that falls to the ground, it sometimes reminds me of a scene on a card filled with wildlife. With her bird bath and bird feeder in place, the wildlife is abundant. There are deer, foxes, bunnies, birds and of course, Max, their cat. Like our cat, he just watches. Mom says male cats are not hunters so the birds are safe. I am not sure about that but it is fun to watch.
Watching the birds and other wildlife gives mom great joy these days. It can be so calming to just sit still and watch. It opens up many conversations of her parents and their love of watching birds, too. I know my grandchildren will remember my husband and his love of bird watching as they grow older.
by Stephanie Fleming, Behnke’s Vice President