To the Editor:
It was our first winter living in the country. We were feeling housebound, and a little lonely. In the city, with traffic noise and row upon row of streetlights, there is a feeling that life is not far away. Winter in the country can be very quiet. So we bought a bird feeder. Life came nearby.
When we moved to our acreage in West Creston, we bought another. It’s not just for the birds, but for us too. As we watch them coming and going, especially in midwinter, we are well entertained.
The wooden feeder is in the shape of a tall skinny house, with perches at several openings in the wooden end walls. The side walls are Plexiglas, allowing us to see how much seed remains. We buy sunflower seeds.
Chickadees come and go, swooping back and forth to the magnolia tree 20 feet away. Once in a while, a Steller’s jay visits, but he’s too big to comfortably sit on the bottom ledge. He sits backwards, his tail feathers scrunched up against the Plexiglas. He doesn’t come often. A squirrel happily runs back and forth collecting seed that has fallen on the snow underneath, hiding it up in the cedar tree not too far away. He hasn’t yet figured how to get to the feeder. Yet almost every morning, the feeder is near empty.
One night we are awakened by a knocking sound, and in the morning under the feeder, we see deer tracks in the snow! OK, we’ll buy another feeder.
The new feeder also looks like a house, but in a bungalow style. On the end walls it has a place to insert suet, a favourite of the nuthatch, the upside-down bird that was coming into the first feeder. The middle section we fill with sunflower seeds.
It doesn’t take long. A flicker comes in. The flicker is a beautiful but larger bird. The feeder isn’t big enough to easily feed a flicker, but with a few acrobatic movements, he feeds. The chickadees, a little nervous about the flicker, aren’t coming as often. Another little bird comes in, mostly a ground feeder. He’s a loner but he keeps coming back. Now there are two flickers, then three. We keep filling both feeders. Four flickers, then five! What have we done? The seed diminishes rapidly.
It’s evening. No outside lights. Paul is sitting, working at the table, his back to the patio window. I see a movement in the shadows. Paul turns around slowly, not to alarm the visitors. Three deer under the new feeder, not five feet from the patio window!
Company for dinner.