Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bird feeding, then and now

Undersea picture made entirely with polymer clay -- no paint whatsoever.
This Picture has nothing to do with the story,
 I'm just showing off

My mother was into industrial-strength bird feeding.  We had a small patio right out the window from where we ate and Mother turned the entire area into several different feeding stations.   All sorts of critters visited because we lived in the country.  We had raccoons and opossums, chip monks and squirrels, and even the occasional skunk.  But mostly, we had birds.

We had every sort of bird you can imagine.   We had the perennial sparrows, robins, doves, nuthatches, finches, flickers, whippoorwills, and dozens of others.   Once in a while we even had an Owl, although his presence tended to discourage the presence of others.

As a child, I used to go out and sit in the feeding area, often with peanuts or sunflower seeds in my open hands.  I would sit very still waiting for them to realize that I was safe.  I sat there for hours (At least it felt like hours to my child’s mind), just waiting.  And sometimes I would be gifted with a brave chip monk who would cautiously approach the hand.  Often he would test-bite my finger to see if I would pounce him (FYI, chip monk bites do not break the skin but they really HURT!).  I never did.  I would hardly move, so then he would take the peanuts and run away as fast as he could.  An occasional chickadee or sparrow would visit the sunflower seeds, but they did not peck to see if it was safe.  They just grabbed and flew.

(for a funny bird feeder story, check out " Papa and the Squirrels ", Dec 12, ’10) 

Lately it has occurred to me that now that I am pretty much bed-bound, it would be lovely to have a bird feeder.  I would have to move my desk away from the picture window and slide my bed in there, so this may be just another fantasy, but it’s worth thinking about.

In any case, now that I live surrounded by other humans, I would not have the same type of visitors that decorate my childhood memories.  We have no squirrels or chip monks here, certainly no opossums or skunks.   What we do have is stray dogs and cats (the economy, y’know).  And birds.  We still have birds.

I am hesitant to put out bird feeders because I suspect they would very quickly become cat feeders.  We do have a thriving and healthy colony of Ferrell cats.  And they also get hungry.  (Yes, I am thinking of joining the trap, neuter and release program)

About two weeks ago, I was looking through some of my boxes, when I came across a hummingbird feeder.  Now, I have never had any luck with hummingbird feeders, but I have noticed some hummingbirds here as they buzz about my blooming tree.  So I figured, What the Heck?

I looked up what to feed hummingbirds and how to make it (easy, peasy) and then did it.  I cleaned up the feeder, put in the hummingbird food and went outside to find a place to hang up the feeder where the cats would not be able to reach.  I found the perfect place, hanging from an awning, right outside my window.

It took them almost ten minutes to find the feeder.  These beautiful aerial acrobats, dancing in front of my window.  Breath-taking.  I was entranced.
But the cats kept coming around.  No the hummingbirds were just fine, the cats couldn’t reach them.  
The cats, however would look longingly at my home, at the gate.  Some time ago, I put out a dish and added a dripper to it so the animals could get water (I live in high desert country, so it gets warmish here).  The cats found the water and used it.  So I decided to add a little cat food (dry cat food.  I am cheap – and poor).  That was less than a week ago and already I can identify at least three cats that come on a regular basis.

So now I have a feeding area, a little different than my Mother’s, but the idea is the same.  I feed them and in return, I get to watch them.

A fair trade.

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