Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Little Disneyland ... My Bird Feeder

Hi there!

It is cold, cold, cold here in Michigan, especially today. I'm not sure of the temperature, but the winds are fierce. I went out this morning as I usually do and put out seed for the birds and squirrels, and they seemed especially anxious to get to their chow. I have an unusual feeder that my husband built for me. It is shaped somewhat like a cross, about seven feet high, but has three flat boards, one over the other, near the top. I spread the seed on each board, and a variety of birds, squirrels, and chipmunks show up each morning, usually immediately after I spread the seed. When I first started doing this, maybe five years ago, none of them got along. Each squirrel would shoo off the other squirrels and the birds too. Now they seem to know each other, and it's like a little Disneyland out there, birds and squirrels all eating and socializing together.

I originally wanted a bird feeder to amuse my cat Slicky. He gets bored being an indoor cat, and he enjoys watching it all in the morning, though now he is used to it and rarely tries to attack the squirrels that run across the deck. (The feeder is built to one side of the deck so I can reach it easily.) Of course, I really like watching all the action in the morning too. I put out wild bird seed, sunflower seeds, and peanuts. The unsalted peanuts were originally for the squirrels, but the jays usually get most of them. I read that blue jays store food for winter, which surprised me. They are quick, and funny to watch. The peanuts are in the shell, and being greedy, the jays try to stuff more than one in their beak, which doesn't work. After picking up one, then dropping it to get the other one a few times, they settle on just one and fly away to their nest. This repeats for a few minutes until all the peanuts are gone.

I've seen cardinals and woodpeckers, big ones and little ones, and the mourning doves are a large group, plus many smaller birds. I have a bird guide my daughter bought me, so I know most of the ones that come around. I used to see blackbirds and crows, but not recently. I think some birds come by just to see what's going on. One time a duck flew up and sat on the feeder. I tried to get a picture, but something scared it and it flew away. The ducks do walk up from the lake and get seed off the ground in the summer, and they bring their little ducklings. (This makes me glad I have an indoor cat.)

But I wonder how they can stand the cold on days like this, but they do. The squirrels cover their backbone with their long tail, and the birds puff up to capture some body warmth, and their hearts beat much faster than ours, pumping out the heat. Makes me glad I can provide them with some fuel ... and that I can watch them from inside.

Hope you're enjoying the holidays!

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