For the birds

Farm Forum

I envy you devout bird lovers who have the stamina and patience to maintain bird feeders.

I’m especially jealous of the elaborate bird meccas I see when visiting friends who feed birds of all shapes, colors and sizes. The birds congregate at these avian hostels even on the coldest days, chirping contentedly and enjoying the hospitality.

Last spring I set out to emulate what my bird nerd friends do. Instead, I created an ornithological monster.

All I hoped to do was attract a few sapsuckers, gossamer-winged what’s-its-name, some cardinals, and a few chirping chit-chats. Maybe a hungry humdinger would stop by.

But once I got all the bird paraphernalia in place, everything went kaploooey.

I muscled a sturdy post in a hole about four feet deep to give the feeder strength in case my backyard happened to be in an ancient flyway and a gaggle of pterodactyls dropped by.

I bought a colorful plastic bird feeder designed to look like a Chinese pagoda several stories high.

A 50-pound bag of sunflower seed was $50. A little bag of glistening black thistle seed the label claimed came from India rounded out my larder. I couldn’t believe the price of those imported seeds. They should figure out how to embed it in jewelry. And why is American importing weed seed bird feed from India in the first place?

I figured the sunflower seeds would last a month, and the first batch would help me calculate how much I’d need for the entire year.

I loaded this all up in my several-story pagoda with its little windows and perches engineered for little, comma-sized bird feet. Within an hour my feeder open house had been discovered and winged creatures flittered in.

Word got around to other backyard critters, too. It wasn’t long before squirrels were shinnying the 4×4.

They couldn’t get enough food through the windows, so they used their sharp teeth to remodel single windows into pagoda bay windows. The seed spilled out in great profusion onto my lawn.

To distract the squirrels and protect my now-remodeled pagodas I bought a squirrel feeder and placed it nearby. It was a little table with a nail in the middle on which to impale an ear of corn. It had a little wooden chair so the little squirrels could sit on their little furry keesters while eating.

I also bought a six and one-half pound bag of corn on the cob that enterprising farmers sell to city suckers like me for an arm and a leg.

The squirrels went through two ears of corn a day. Incidentally, they stand while eating.

I discovered they eat only the root end of each kernel, leaving a pile of U-shaped bits of kernels on my grass, which had by now taken on a patina that reminded me of the bottom of an unattended bird cage.

While the picky squirrels were spitting out most of the kernels, some ugly looking birds of prey had discovered the feast below the squirrels’ banquet table and the piles of bird scat become very annoying to friends who stopped by to smell my roses.

I’m also pretty sure marauding mountain lions picked up the scent of the cottontail rabbits that had discovered this mother lode of U-shaped corn kernels.

I think I even saw an emaciated pterodactyl feeding out there last night.

That unsightly mess of festering, well-fertilized feed and sprouting India weeds in my back yard expanded exponentially. I retired from the bird feeding business.

If you need a half-bag of really precious black weed seed from India, and a slightly used squirrel table with a pristine squirrel chair, call me.

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