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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Bird thoughts


I entertained philosophical musings this morning, sitting on the porch and watching the birds at the feeders. I added shelled sunflower seeds this summer, after the quarterly newsletter from the bird seed store extolled the “reduced litter” benefit of serving them without hulls.

Hulls aren’t a great deterrent to this bird feeder whose lawn would never grace a cover of Country Living magazine; the stuff on the ground feeds the squirrels, the chipmunks and the doves, and surely will eventually compost. I used only to serve safflower and niger all summer; the sunflower brought back the nuthatches, the woodpeckers, chickadees and occasional grosbeaks to use the feeders in summer.

At the birdseed store yesterday I bemoaned my inability to put up a suet feeder to be raided by squirrels, which already have enough on the ground. The store owner showed me the display of suet cakes, one of which included hot peppers.  

Bird taste receptors do not recognize hot peppers, he explained; squirrels do. “And, they’re quick learners,” he said, while his Westland White Highland terrier thumped his tail and beamed in agreement. I’ll add suet to the menu this winter.

So, I watched birds this morning while deciding where to hang the suet feeder in the fall. The store owner had remarked we feed the birds so we can watch them. I suppose there is a grain of truth in that, but little more. Feeding birds is expensive, a nuisance, a real chore in winter, and not much less trouble in summer, when I plant and maintain a whole smorgasbord  for birds, bees and butterflies.

Having planted the first Solomon’s seal and hung the first bird feeder, then planted more and hung more, I cannot stop. It would be like assuming responsibility for any animal, then abandoning it.  Since I cannot go backward, I go forward.

The oak tree full of feeders is too far from the porch for quick recognition of the birds, but I do enjoy the gold finch gold, the Cardinal scarlet, the purple finches. I like seeing nuthatches upside down on the feeders, goldfinches shoulder to shoulder on the niger feeder. I wonder why they are so peaceful, when the humming birds seem to expend all their energy arguing with each other.

So, I come back in, to weave a little this morning. This evening I’ll go back out. When it’s dusk and cool, the birds are a real joy. The oak tree is a muted song of bird twitters and cheeps as everyone settles in for the night. It’s a sound from my childhood, when my mother used to say it was time for bed; listen, all the birds are saying goodnight.



26 comments:

  1. Suet and chilli peppers is a novel solution.
    And yes, that muted going to bed song is always a joy. I like their start up calls too. Even the ones which start well before first light.

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  2. Nice to watch and they refresh old memories - tough to beat that combination.

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  3. I don't put out suet every winter because we get little snow and the birds have plenty to eat. The addition of hot peppers sounds like a good solution to your issue. I hope it works!

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  4. That is interesting about the hot peppers and the squirrels; definitely did learn something new today. I love the comment that we feed the birds to watch them; that is so true at least here because like you said, it is expensive, messy, etc., but so much fun to watch them and study their patterns too.

    betty

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  5. Critters make a place for themselves in our hearts; there is no rhyme nor reason.

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  6. Isn't it wonderful being in nature, Joanne! Your photo is beautiful and soothing.

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  7. Yes, we feed them so we may have them near.

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  8. Thank you for the tip about the suet and hot peppers. I will definitely give it a try.

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  9. I'm thinking more than a grain of truth in the feeding to watch theory. Birds are amazing creatures and I'm jealous of any who can lure in the combative hummers.

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  10. Oh I wish I had known your mother's phrase when my children were young. I would have liked to have told them to listen to the birds they are saying good night. Enjoy your bird sightings -- barbara

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  11. when we lived in florida squirrels were a problem getting into folks cars in winter and chewing the wiring, we sprayed our engines with pepper spray and it worked. I miss my studio window in Florida with a tree right outside the birds kept me company many an hour.

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  12. I am surprised, Joanne, that you feed the birds in summer: here they always tells us in articles that we shall not do it, they say birds shall look for their meals on their own (I see a lot of them, the birds, at McDonalds - really! They munch pommes frites!) I give them water on the balcony - much frequented at the moment (it is still exceptionally hot in Berlin) - the thing is: the wasps like it too... Well, obviously I can't have the cake and eat it... :-)

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  13. Hari OM
    there's a solution for just about every conundrum! glad the Westie agreed. ...and nothing beats the sounds of nature getting on with life. YAM xx

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  14. I love what you do for the birds and animals, but didn't realise you fed them in summer too.
    I like seeing them in your photos too.

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  15. Wonderful thoughts and photos. Good job and best wishes!

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  16. We hang suet here year round. Once I got a baffle for the feeder (and kept the chain too short for them to cling on) I no longer had a problem with the squirrels eating my suet. I love watching the birds in my backyard too. Such a calming pastime.

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  17. I love the last line in this post!

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  18. Here in Hawaii, it is illegal to feed the pigeons, because of the mess and poop they make on solar panels and people's homes and yards. So, I cannot feed the birds even if I wanted to.

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  19. Our seed costs are really just an annual subscription to "Chckadee TV" for the cats.
    Jane x

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  20. Watching the birds come to my feeders is one of the great enjoyments in my life. I tried sitting still a few times with arms outstretched and seed in my hands, but guess I couldn't charm the birds out of the trees.

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  21. No birds out today. I did see a hawk soaring up high...

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  22. I would do that, just to see the scarlet of the cardinal.

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  23. It gives me a lot of pleasure to feed the birds then watch them feast. I'm going away for a few days & have instructed my son to feed them for me. I hope he remembers !

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  24. They are a real source of enjoyment although the hummers ignore my feeder and prefer the real things in the flower gardens.

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  25. I don't really know why, but your last line made me cry and I forgot to come back and comment after the tears were wiped up ... somehow it's all tangled up with my dad and losing him and that kind of stuff. Lovely post, Joanne.

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