Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cheep Entertainment

Cheep Entertainment

Do you want some cheep entertainment?  No, that is not a typo.  I really mean some cheep entertainment. Get a bird feeder and set it up close to your favorite window.

Years ago, my husband asked what I wanted for my birthday.  I told him I wanted a bird feeder by the dining room window.  That was the beginning of a wonderful fascination.
Feathered guests joined us at every meal--that is unless we ate after dark--which sometimes happens in the winter.  Most of the time, we had numerous avian friends frolicking at their feeder and entertaining us as we ate.

That feeder was so close to the house that we literally had a birds-eye-view of our little friends.  As humans can be, some were loutish in their behavior as they hogged the seeds and scared more timid birds away from the feeder.  Others were polite and dainty as they ate.  Cardinals and house finches were our favorites while blue jays and starlings won the lout award.

            Over the years we discovered one feeder was not enough entertainment, and we now have four set up.  They are further from the window, however, so perhaps the numbers make up for the distance.

Currently, we have a cardinal pair that drop in to feed several times a day.  In the morning the male works really hard at being photogenic as he, looking like a Christmas card cardinal, perches in a cedar tree.  When the ground is snow covered, he really puts on a show as he darts from branch to branch, causing small avalanches to fall from the heavily laden branches.  His mate is more subtle; but she, too, likes to put on a show for us by perching daringly on a fragile overhanging branch before she goes in to feed.

In addition, we have innumerable house finches, pine siskins (a delicate little bird that is engaging to watch), nuthatches (which crack us up because they crawl up and down the tree trunk upside down), juncoes, and chickadees.  I’d like to tell you I can identify every single one of them by name, but I can’t.

As the seasons change, we sometimes have newcomers that drop in for a short time as they migrate somewhere else.  The gold finches, towhees, and cedar waxwings are my personal favorite temporary visitors.  The waxwings are particularly interesting because they get drunk on fermented berries and sometimes, unfortunately, run into the windows or the trees.  They usually recover from their stupor and take off in search of more berries. Until I saw this with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed that some birds have a fondness for the “sauce.”

During bad weather, our feeder is like O’Hare airport as birds angle in for position to land or take off.  All four feeders are deluged with multiple species, and under such stressful conditions, they seem to get along better.  No one wants to waste energy trying to knock someone else off the perch.

Naturally, the squirrels like our feeders, too.  I know some people don’t like to waste seeds on the squirrels, but they add such humor to our day with their acrobatics and their tormenting of the dog that I will gladly buy a little extra so they can join our feathered friends.  In fact, we like the squirrels so much  we toss an ear of dried corn into the feeder every now and then just for them. 

The bird book sits on a counter near the table, and I keep a trash can full of seed available year round for my birds. When I think back, that first feeder was the best birthday present I ever received.  I am easy to buy for now.  Just get me another feeder and 100 lbs. of black oil sunflower seeds.

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