Friday, January 19, 2018
WINDOW BIRD WATCHING by Patricia Crandall
Do you have an invalid living with you? Or an elderly parent, a hyperactive child, too-busy husband or wife, unexpected guests? Face them toward a window where they can view bird feeders visited by cardinals, sparrows, juncos, mourning doves, chickadees, grosbeaks, nuthatches, titmice, pine siskin, starlings, blue jays, woodpeckers and hummingbirds. The entertainment is delightful. And, in your harried moments, you might face that window.
Bird feeders come in all shapes and sizes as do birds. There are plastic feeders in which to hold wild bird seed, sunflower seeds, thistle seeds, and hand-crafted, wooden feeders. A favorite feeder of mine is a wooden chickadee with three cut-out holes, to hold peanut butter and seeds pressed into it. What sheer poetry to see a chickadee perched on its wooden equal.
One particular feeder comes in the shape of an apple with a skewer, to hold suet. You can make a homemade suet container by discarding all bacon grease and grease products into the bottom half of a milk carton. Fill it with pan drippings until you have enough to insert into your suet feeder. Cut it to fit. Birds love it. Suet keeps them warm, and it costs nothing.
Each May, in Upstate New York, hummingbirds arrive at our feeders filled to the brim, with glistening red nectar. After a long journey, these tiny birds populate the northeast for a brief summer season. During this time, it is thrilling to observe the vibrant colors of the males, and the muted colors of the females, as they build their basket nests, and tend to their young. These birds are so small, it helps to have a pair of binoculars on hand. The males are territorial and chase predators three times their size, to protect their families. As predictable as they are to arrive in May, they generally leave mid-September.
Children delight in bird watching and it beats staring at the TV, Ipad or iPhone all the while. Grandma enjoys tea at a cozy table indoors where it is warm, with a vantage point to view the birds. John, in a wheelchair, is drawn to nature, observing the wildlife.
Wild ducks come to our feeders in early spring to eat the seeds that fall on the ground. Although not as welcome as the others, black bears awakening after a long, winter’s nap, visit our feeders and cause havoc.
Squirrels are pesky at times. One solution to this age-old problem is to set the feeder on a pole rather than attach it to a tree limb. Then grease the pole with Crisco. These gray critters cannot shimmy up a slippery pole; however, they are agile ‘out on a limb!’
All things considered, bird watching is therapeutic for everyone. It is a quiet, peaceful, harmonious way to enjoy nature.
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