By Frank Munzer
To me Morningside Gardens is a true garden. Let me tell you why I feel like this. After living here for the past 12 months I have come to realize that we live on a rock covered site where once stood small homes some of whose remains can still be seen if one looks hard. To me it is now a piece of property and on it we have six apartment buildings, a parking garage, and beautiful tree covered walks between apartments, upper and lower lawn areas, flower lined walks with flower plantings and ground cover plantings with shrubs strategically planted as well as fern covered rocks outcroppings. There are benches along the walkways where the sitter has views of the (my forest) trees, shrubs and so many plantings. These are great places to sit, relax and enjoy the views and at times meditate and think of all we have here at Morningside.
All this is not just enjoyed by the people living here but by the bird life that lives in the trees, shrubs, and rock outcroppings. Some of them live here as visitors coming in the spring and leaving in late summer or at least right after the first snow fall. There is one species that have found a way to live here year round. They are the English Sparrow also known as the House Sparrow. The male is recognized by his black bill and white cheeks. The female is recognized by its streaked dingy breast and buffy eye line and a streaked back. They live a full family life in every respect. The sparrows that are here now were born here, learned where to get their food year round in our garden, build nest in various places, find a mate, have chicks, and teach them how to live and survive in our garden. They raise a number of families with their second family being out of the nest and still begging their parents for food in the middle of August. Then there are the visitors who come here in the early spring. The male bird usually flies in first before his mate or before he starts looking for a mate, they look to establish themselves in an area that would allow them to live with a mate and rase their young who they will train and take them as they return to their southern feeding and resting areas. The Robin Red Breasts are usually the first to arrive in the early spring. They may also raise two families before retreating to the warmer climate. Then we can expect to see the noisy Blue Jay followed by the Cardinal and maybe a Finch or two. Another bird we will see is the aggressive Starling, an all gray/ black bird with a noticeably short tail. Some of them may live here and raise a family or two. However, they look to move around setting up nests in buildings, under eaves and just anywhere they can keep out of the rain. They like living in a flock and feed at Morningside Gardens, and when feeding is right for them they bring in the rest of their flock to feed in our lawns and eat our insects. Their young are a light all gray color and mostly fly in a small flock of birds.
Because of what grows here there are a few other birds who stop by for a while on their flights north like the Red Winged Blackbird and possibly the Morning Dove. When our honeysuckle flowers are blooming you may even see a Hummingbird or two.
Many of you have come to know me from my writings and even from my art work, that I have spent a good deal of my free time in the field and woods of New York State and on the streams and rivers on the Catskill and Adirondack mountains. Fortunately I see so much of what I enjoyed in those places right here now in Morningside. But remember I am a good looker and see that others may not see.
I quote: “Happiness is the ability to recognize it” By: Carolyn Wells