A silent weekend in Faulkner, MD and frequent yard visitors…

A silent weekend in Faulkner, MD and frequent yard visitors…

I spent a wonderful weekend at the Loyola Retreat House in Faulkner, MD, one of my favorite places to visit. The silence, rest, and community were wonderful, and I returned home feeling restored physically and spiritually. The picture above, and the one below, are of Saturday’s sunset over the Potomac River.


I kept watch for birds throughout the weekend and spotted the following:

Bald eagles; osprey (species #113 for 2017!); cardinals; chipping sparrows; robins; turkey vultures; mockingbirds; white-throated sparrows; gulls of all sorts; carolina wrens; crows; juncos; blue jays; double-crested cormorants; brown thrashers; a red-bellied woodpecker; bluebirds; and 35+ bufflehead.

Much to my delight, I discovered an old yet useable scope in one of the retreat house rooms that enabled me to identify the bufflehead ducks. One species I couldn’t identify were the small black birds gliding low over the water. I look forward to talking with birding friends, to learn the type of birds they might have been.

There have also been wonderful yard birds in recent weeks. In particular, the Purple Finches (NH State Bird!!) have been stunning. I’ve previously seen one or two in with the house finches, however this year there have been days I’ve looked out to see a dozen or more at once. The males are beautiful to look at — Roger Tory Peterson is said to have described these birds as a “sparrow dipped in raspberry juice.” My eye has also been drawn to the females — plain color, yet a bold eye stripe and lovely streaked underparts. The bold stripe above the eye initially had me thinking these might be female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, however they are Purple Finches.


The Chipping Sparrows and Goldfinches have also been abundant, cheerful visitors


And lastly, I’ve been enjoying the “drink your tea” song of the Eastern Towhee (that I still think of as the Rufous-Sided Towhee), and this male came out from cover long enough for me to capture a few pictures yesterday. So handsome!

I put up the hummingbird feeders last week, and each time I pass by the windows I look for signs of their arrival…


8 thoughts on “A silent weekend in Faulkner, MD and frequent yard visitors…

  1. this is holy balm, scrolling along, pausing to drink in each and every bird, caught in mid-act. i find it serendipitously wonderful that we were both away, draped in silence this weekend. your bird count far exceeded mine. it’s still cold here, along the great lakes flyway. and i’ve never seen — nor heard — of a bufflehead, so thank you for that fine introduction. i thought of you from my holy place, more than 1,000 miles away from yours. a sacred thread, perhaps, connecting us…..


    1. Thanks Barbara. I find the intentional, prayerful silence with these wonderful women to be especially nurturing… and this visit was even more special with sacred threads woven to you, my dearest friends, my mother, and my aunts while I was away. I’m truly blessed with wise women in my life. I look forward to hearing about your birds as they arrive. One of my most favorite reflections I’ve ever read is your description of your Christmas morning walk of wonder with your critters 🙂


  2. Thank you for sharing your pictures and your wonderful time in retreat. I particularly love the Towhee because the song is easily identifiable and the little trill at the end is so cheery. It makes me smile every time I hear it!


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