Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Attitude of Gratitude

I've mentioned I feed the squirrels where I work. In recent weeks, as the winter weather set in and made life difficult for all (or most) creatures great and small, I've returned to feeding the birds. For many months, I had those squares of suet with bird seed that I placed in a cage that would hang from a feeder with suction cups holding it to the window, a free standing type of device.

That worked fine for all the little birds until some of the larger birds, I called them grackles because that's what my wife's people called them in Germany (my accent wasn't as good of course), took over the feeder--dive-bombing the suet cages and scaring off the smaller birds. The simplest solution became to stop putting suet out in the cages, and then, finally, removing the cages altogether. After awhile, the grackles took the hint and moved on.

In the meantime, my wife had gotten me a small plasticine feeding shelf with a roof. It secures to the window with suction cups with hooks and the feeder itself is attached by the hooks. It's all clear so the birds can see the seed, and in this case, because it's on my outer office window, the biped in the dress shirt and tie on the inside, where we keep the carpeting and the fluorescent light, looking at them instead of my computer screen.

As I said, in the colder days of recent weeks I've had waves of little birds, and some not so small ones, landing and gobbling seed (which my wife and daughter buy in those forty pound bags) and birds aren't the neatest of eaters. My favorite birds remain the male Cardinals--I'm not sure if birds see in color (Animal Planet is a premium channel on my cable system) but I suspect they can, and the Cardinal is one reason why. I get the Lady Cardinals, too, and I'm impressed with how well they seem to coexist with the other birds at the feeder.

Not so the Blue Jays. They're more or less a special creature since, according to the pamphlet that came with the feeder, it was designed specifically to thwart their efforts and to discourage them from using the feeder. When I read that the first time after putting up the feeder, the pamphlet made me feel bad, except, the birds themselves are unable to read and will not sit still long enough for me to read the pamphlet aloud to them. Ignorance is bliss with feathers.

All day long, there's a coming and going at the feeder and a pattern of hustle and bustle on the suet cages as a sort of waiting area forms there to get at the feeder and grab some seed. Except, it may be closing time and this time around it will be because me. I came out last night to head home and the usual gaggle of little sparrows are in the area of the feeder and the sidewalk flanking the parking lot in front of the building where I park and there, on the hood of my car, are three or four separate piles of bird poop-white against the black clear coat paint job.

As a card-carrying Auto-American, I felt compelled to turn to the little birds sitting on the sidewalk more or less looking in my direction and warn them 'not MY car! I'm the biped who feeds you! Poop on the Armada or on the Ram truck (he eats chicken for lunch. Where's your sense of solidarity?) Put leave my car alone." I'm more of an input kind of a guy than an output one and I don't take a lot of shi(p), so to speak, from my fellow bipeds. The feathered friends had best learn or otherwise learn to eat elsewhere.
-bill kenny

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