Gone to the Birds

May my heart always be open to little birds who are the secrets to life. – e.e.cummings

 

I just purchased a new finch feeder and a bag of niger seed as it appears the finches (who had gone elsewhere for a few years) are back. The purchase sent me into sticker shock! It appears that gas prices are not the only thing on the rise these days. A 5 pound bag of seed set me back about $30. I don’t mind the expense, but my little feathered friends greedily consume a bag every few weeks. It’s a good thing I love to watch their antics or I might think twice about such an expenditure.

My other favourite is the hummingbirds and I always try to ensure their feeding station is replenished on a regular basis. Thankfully they have more economical tastes and their fare is quite cheap. Besides, by mid-summer they much prefer visiting the various flowers in my yard. It’s not uncommon to have them whirring right past my head as I work in the flower garden.

The robins, on the other hand, fend for themselves. I have had upwards of 40 of them hunting and pecking away in the grass looking for worms and bugs. While I applaud their dietary choices, I am not so enamoured with their selections for nest-building sites. In fact, these birds have a penchant for establishing their homes in the most inconvenient places.

One friend told me a pair had built a nest on a wreathe hanging on her front door. Whenever she opened the door the mama robin would set up quite the fuss. Another person was quite shocked to discover one morning that some red-breasts had built their nest on top of his truck’s front tire.

One summer a pair decided to nest on the drain pipe right next to our bedroom window. Although I love to hear them sing, I am not so enthralled with them breaking out into joyful arias at 4a.m. Not only that, but they were messy builders as well and before long the window was splattered with straw, grass and mud. I decided that there were many more appropriate places on the farm for them to establish an abode, so as quickly as they started to build their nest, I dismantled it. It ended up being quite the war because as soon as I had taken apart the beginnings of a nest, they were stubbornly back replacing the discarded material.

One day I was away for a few hours and by the time I returned those crafty robins had not only rebuilt their nest, but had also laid eggs in it. Talk about perfect timing! There was no way I was going to harm those eggs, so the robins stayed. However, once those babies flew away, down came that nest. I fully expected the robins to try again, but they must have been as battle-weary as I was and left to find new accommodations and a more agreeable landlord.

Out on the farm we are lucky to have a virtual bird sanctuary and I enjoy all of the birds who take up residence nearby. The hooting of a pair of owls at night, the high-pitch screech of a hunting hawk, or the twitter of the little wrens – all are welcomed.

Except for magpies! One has to draw the line somewhere! And, to be fair, even the other birds don’t like them and don’t want them around.

 

 

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