Day 57: Gratitude for Bird Feeder Drama

I’ve learned over the last few years that the best location for my work desk is by an east-facing window. The windows are a triple set overlooking the back deck and my little kitchen garden. I used some metal coat-hangers to attach plastic party trays to the railing. I fill these with birdseed. I also attached a shelf under the middle window to feed squirrels. I was not prepared for the daily drama or the intrigue. The birds each have their unique personalities, the squirrels are fascinating marauders. I am always intrigued by who gets along with whom and who doesn’t. Who is the bully and who is the wimp.

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The end of February in the Blue Ridge foothills of North Carolina is a crazy time in the garden. We are blessed with the occasional spring-like days of 70° that devolve quickly into evening sleet or single digit nights. Like the birds, who take advantage of an occasional warm day, I also run out to do some gardening. The birds rustle through the leaves and twigs I rake into compost piles in the woods for sturdy nest supports. It’s fascinating to watch them study each twig, the exam it from each angle, hold it up and turn it. Cardinals often do this as couples but the little sparrows and finches are more independent.

Yesterday I collected a large handful of husky fur and rolled it between my palms until it faux-felted into a more solid mass the size of a lemon. I wedged this ball into one of the feeders and have been enjoying the resulting drama. The finches immediately began pulling hair from the mass. They often let it float off in the breeze until they got what they wanted and flitted off towards the nest. Tufted Titmice aren’t so picky and grab a tuft and flee. Blue Jays and Cardinals have been ignoring it, they obviously prefer a more Spartan approach to nursery design.

The squirrels run along the railing and through the feeder to get to the tray I set up under the window. But on encountering the ball of fur one squirrel looked like it freaked out. It stopped and sat up holding hands up in surrender then ran off. They are so fast, I couldn’t get a picture. As I sat here drinking my coffee, I considered a live cam by the window when a large black shape startled me.

A crow was on the railing and the size and shimmering coat was very impressive. It cawed at the Mourning doves and squirrels and was ignored. It didn’t take me long to realize that it had no interest in the seeds, it was after the fur. I assume it thought it might be a dead somebody. I heard more noise and looked up to find the branches of the dogwood contained a murder of crows. As I looked up they all started cawing. The squirrel in the window feeder slapped his paws against the glass. I usually wave back and then he returns to eating. For some reason, he needs to have me acknowledge him.

Currently a mourning dove is firmly positioned in the middle of the tray feeder on the rail and she spreads her wings when approached by a squirrel. It’s pretty amazing. She puffs up and spreads her wings like an squat archangel. She is staying pretty close to the puff of fur and won’t let the finches… oops, nope Slash is back. He’s a big feisty squirrel with a slashed ear. He doesn’t put up with any dove crap and is now stuffing his face. The dove is pacing around the little pond.

Okay, I could continue all day with this commentary but that won’t get my book done, so look forward to future installments of gratitude for feeder drama.