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.