Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Science of Bird Feeding

There's a sadness that lingers over the barren landscape in the dead of winter; a sadness that persists even though the sun has claimed the cloudless sky as its own.  The oak trees refuse to let go of their remaining leaves that rustle in the icy winds of a morning that has not yet begun to thaw.

I'm not a fan of mornings when I can blow fog out of my mouth as I dip my hand into the frigid waters of the birdbath to clean out the aftermath of a blackbird bombardment.  I'm working as fast as I can, as carefully as I can, as any falling water onto the stone pathway is transformed into ice rather quickly.  Perhaps it would have been more brilliant to have filled the feeder first since it stands beyond the birdbath, but I didn't, so never mind.

Ascending the steps in my clunky wool slippers, it's a realization that when I come back out with the birdseed, I had better be dressed a little bit warmer or I'll be turning the thermostat up to 80 degrees later on to defrost myself when my bird chores are at an end.

Back down the steps in a fancy wool coat over a cheap worn out house dress, I scatter seeds across the stones at the base of the shepherd's hook that holds the hanging platform bird feeder.  The squawking of what seems like a hundred blackbirds has me scanning the treetops to see if they are close enough to become my problem again.

Much to my dismay, my diminutive yard looks so insignificant when it is decorated mostly with bare limbs.  I can only sigh and search the grounds to see if there is any sign of life when I know good and well that there isn't.  It's a ritual I do every day, with hope that I will one day discover the first day of spring in the middle of winter.  The wind is picking up, I shiver, dump the remaining seed into the feeder, and head for the indoors and warmer weather. 

Coat hung up, slippers tossed off, sipping on a cup of hot chocolate; I gaze out the window to see what the birdseed has brought in.  It will be the usual, the same ones I watch every day, and the jewels that light up my garden through this dismal season.

The ones I could do without, but don't...the European starlings and house sparrows; then all the rest...a small flock of northern cardinals, a group of house finches, some noisy common grackles and blue jays, mourning doves and several northern mockingbirds, dark-eyed juncos, black capped chickadees and titmice, a pair of Carolina wrens, a few white-crowned sparrows, and a lovely downy woodpecker.

Last but not least, that fluffy robin doing the unusual...feeding on sunflower hearts in the hanging platform feeder.  I love watching him.  He reminds me of the year when drought conditions forced a mother robin for a week to feed her two fledglings sunflower hearts that I put out on the patio for her.

My day will go on as usual - exercises left over from physical therapy I force myself to finish, washing dishes to discover the tops of my counters once again, searching plant catalogs online, and planning my next art project after a three year break thanks to a generous amount of health entanglements dominating my life.

I'll take a peek out the window once in a while until darkness is on the horizon, then one last trek outside to add just enough seed to feed the early risers and not the blackbirds that later flock in.  It's a science I've fully embraced.

There's good times, and then there's bad times to invite the multitudes to lunch.  I have it down pat until the next flock of grackles swoops in forcing me to tap with my fingertips, then increasing the noise with my palm banging on the window to scare the flocks off again.  Mind you, a terrier pup is enthusiastically yip-yapping by my feet during the entire free-for-all commotion.  Isn't life good!

What do you mean, I only get to look and not eat them?!?

You must be CRAZY!!!

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