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Birds with Friends

Hudson Cooper - Columnist
Posted 4/15/21

It is that time of year. Spring has sprung. Baseball is back. Bulbs that were planted last Fall have broken through the soil to welcome the sunlight. Trees and bushes are showing the first green …

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Birds with Friends


It is that time of year. Spring has sprung. Baseball is back. Bulbs that were planted last Fall have broken through the soil to welcome the sunlight. Trees and bushes are showing the first green hints of budding leaves.

For me, there is one clear indication that Winter is behind us. I am finally seeing my friends…my fine feathered friends.

After months of being pounded by repeated blizzards, my bird feeder has emerged from being buried in snow drifts. A quick situation assessment revealed that some maintenance of the feeder was necessary.

Somehow the anti-squirrel cage surrounding the feeding tube was slightly bent. Could it be that one of the family of squirrels that I fought off last summer had made one last effort to grab some of the seeds before Winter set in?

So, armed with a pair of pliers and a fistful of plastic zip ties I was able to fix the cage surrounding the feeding tube and reattach the feeder to the railing on my deck. More about those pesky squirrels later in this column.

My deck overlooks a lake and with it comes a vista that enables me to do a lot of bird watching. At first, I tossed capfuls of wild bird seed on the deck to try to attract the birds. Soon some of them arrived pecking and biting into their newly discovered meal. It was easy to identify some of them. The blue jays came in different sizes but each one was a distinctive bright blue.

One of them, who seemed to be the leader, was so big that he landed on the deck with a loud thump. Soon came the cardinals - the male with its bright red colors, his mate a plain grey with a red fluffy patch on her head. I watched as the male kept picking up a seed and placed it in the female's beak.

So, with the blue jays and cardinals two major league baseball teams were represented. Soon they were joined by speedy woodpeckers, a slew of finches and two doves that seem to only stop eating when I shoo them away.

Feeding my feathered friends became an obsession. I went online to find a bird feeder to upgrade from my scattering seed on the deck. I ordered one and days later attached it to my deck railing. I filled it with seed that was made for songbirds.

I never knew that different bird species had different preferences in food. But I realized that, like humans with food, wild birds have their favorite seeds. I consulted Marjoe Morningstar author of “This One is For the Birds.” She assured me that filling a feeder with a mixture of types of seeds and nuts will guarantee a variety of birds frequenting my deck.

Most of them are not too territorial since they share the feeder and individual seed preferences assures plenty for all. She then told me that unlike many animals, most birds have no problem sharing feeding territories.

You know which animals hate to share their feeding territory…squirrels. Once they discovered my bird feeder the battle to stave them off commenced. Their arrival chased away my hungry wild birds. Banging on my storm door did nothing. I purchased a water gun but even a good shot rarely made them flee. In fact, it seems it made them stare mockingly at me. They came in groups, maneuvering on my deck railing like the Flying Wallenda tightrope-walking family.

So, I went online and found a feeder described as fool proof. The feeding tube is surrounded by a circular metal cage with small openings that allow birds to feed while frustrating the squirrels. So far it works.

The pesky squirrels seem to have gotten the hint. I rarely see them and imagine they have staked their claim at another person's easier access seed distribution feeder.


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