Recently I put up a rather lame bird feeder in the backyard, a feeder intended to be placed on a tree. Originally, it was hung in the front yard, near the road, but since no birds at all deigned to perch there, I relegated it to the back lawn. It swings upon a short iron rod, the bottom mere inches from the ground. Since putting it there, though, many different birds have flocked to our varied offerings. Perhaps they were not fond of the hurtling vehicles that passed by our house.
It is amazing how many species descend to feed. Here, in the accompanying photo, stout little wrens nestle in a bush, feathers plumped to ward off the winter chill as they await their turn. Bluejays, starlings, sparrows, chickadees, and occasionally, a small cadre of mourning doves, all graze on the seed-laden patch of snow. Even tinier birds cling to the cage, poking their beaks into the openings for a morsel or two before flitting away in the wind.
Our cats get a thrill watching these creatures. They sit, hunched in the sun room, eyes dilated and tails twitching, and once in a while they emit a small, trembling murmur, a plaintiff cry as they yearn to pounce upon these winged foragers.
But the cellar window has the best vantage point. After a simple bound onto the washing machine the cats can find a comfortable blanket tucked on the sill. From there, they can stare at the hopping, chirping, swirling mass of tiny bodies, all jostling for more sustenance. Sometimes a huge flock of starlings or redwing blackbirds swoop down and cover the snow in a blanket of black, their chorus of calls a cacophony of shrills and whistles that set the cats’ tails into overdrive.
When listening to these swarming birds, it reminds me of lunch duty I had at a school. As I walked around the cafeteria tables, all filled with excitable 2nd graders, their own voluminous chatter drowned out any thought of conversation with other teachers. The childrens’ babble mimicked the deafening birdsong that filled the winter air in our yard, and the similarity was quite remarkable. If I had closed my eyes then, I would have been transported to my kitchen and have heard the myriad of birds that feasted on our feed.
No matter how lame a feeder you purchase, get one. It will provide you and your pets hours of joy. Well, maybe hours for the cats. For people though, moments of wonder will surely be found.
Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.