Serendipity Gardens: It’s magical to have birds speak to you

Published 9:00 am Saturday, November 24, 2018

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang


When I get the chance to talk to my younger brother on the phone, I often catch him while he is watching his birds and talking to them. This may just run in the family, as I also talk to my birds and I wouldn’t doubt that my older brother does the same thing. My family of siblings, with the exception of one sister, are animal lovers. We feed birds, stray cats and other critters, and we own dogs and cats.

Email newsletter signup

This trait must have been passed on by our father because my mother had no time for the menagerie of pets we brought home. We had chickens — the colored ones available at Easter — bunnies, squirrels hand-raised when the mother was run over by a car and many other critters.

Over the years, my younger brother and I have taught our grandchildren all about nature. We love to share all of this with their minds that just seem to absorb all of this information. We are trying to do our little part in making sure they know all about nature, so they will carry on after we are long gone.

Whether they become bird whisperers is not known yet, but hopefully they will find out how magical it is to have birds speak to you every day when you head out to the feeders, as they eagerly await you filling the feeders. My cardinals make it known that the feeders are empty and will sit close by, just waiting for their peanuts and sunflower seeds to be put out.

When I was a youngster, I would be outside very early in the morning to sit on the swing by mother’s garden and listen to the birds and watch the morning come alive. It was — and still is  — my favorite time of the day.

My gardens bring in a wide variety of birds — some that I am not always happy about seeing that prey on the smaller songbirds — but it is all part of the balance of nature. From the time I was a child, nature was such a big part of my life. My great-aunt Alice was the one who really kept my interest alive, and I am so grateful she was a part of my life.

My father taught me about the stars and constellations. My grandpa taught about animals on his farm and to listen to the pines as they whispered in the wind. How much of this my granddaughter has absorbed from my conversations with her over the years, I don’t know, but hopefully she will continue my love of nature.

We here in Albert Lea are so fortunate to have Al Batt to go to when you have a question about anything in nature. So many times I have called upon his expertise to answer my questions. This summer when we had the Art and Garden Tour, people were able to visit Gunnar Berg’s little piece of paradise in his backyard sanctuary. I hope you were able to visit and see this little-known gem and all the activity it generates with nature. Years ago, Maude Koevnig answered my questions. She was such an inspiration for me over the years, and I loved reading her column in the Tribune. In a recent email with Gunnar, he mentioned Maude, and it brought back so many memories of this wonderful woman to me.

Another inspiration for me was Tasha Tudor, who has also passed on. Tasha reminded me a great deal of Maude. Nature can be so rewarding and relaxing, and these little places tendered for wildlife are so very important as we keep tearing down houses and destroying the landscapes for new buildings. We have already seen what spraying chemicals on road ditches has done to the milkweed that is critical for our monarchs.

It helps that I have brothers who share this love of nature with me and knowing that being a bird whisperer is not just a quirk of nature.

“There are no sounds that can stir the sublime emotions … like the sighs and whispers of nature.” — James Lendall Basford

Carol Hegel Lang is a green thumb residing in Albert Lea. Her column appears biweekly. Email her at