Let me say right up front that I am not any kind of a bird expert. I enjoy watching them. I love to hear their voices. And, we feed them in the winter. I have even, in my youth, hunted them.
Growing up in the hills of central Pennsylvania, my best buddy and I used to hunt on our way to school — mostly for rabbits and the ever elusive, ruffed grouse. We were not very successful hunters. Grouse were particularly challenging and very elusive. They wait until you are practically on top of them until they launch out of the underbrush and scare the bejesus out of you. I have demolished many a hemlock tree in an attempt to gather myself and save face with a shotgun blast! They are crafty birds.
My interest in birds goes way back. As a child, we would visit my mother's parents in rural western New York, not far from Buffalo, near the pretty little village of Springville. My grandparents lived on a small farm along Cattaraugus Creek where there was all kinds of wildlife. They loved birds and always had a feeder going out side the dining room window. We would often play pinochle with the window open to hear the bird songs. I particularly enjoyed the call of the red wing blackbird and, as you may have guessed, the chickadee dee dee. Such a perky little bird.
Back in Pennsylvania we had lots of birds, too, around our house in the woods. Mother always fed the birds and our father often put out cracked corn. Dad’s relatives owned Mitchell Milling Company in Clearfield. I used to help out there during visits and sometimes Uncle Frisbie would share a small sack of feed to take home.
I’m very partial to the chickadee. I have photos of them eating out of mother's hand. They loved her. She would go out in the morning, in her bathrobe, under the carport, and sing to them. It was like feeding time at the zoo. They came from everywhere.
State bird or not, they will always be my favorite.