For the Birds

I did not know preparing my cereal was going to take up all of my morning, emptying two boxes, opening a third and sweeping up the mess I made — and I still have to give some demanding plants some water. This post is hardly finished, but I’ve been AWOL a lot lately, and I didn’t want you thinking I was down for the count with covid, so here is piffle:

The big black-and-white bird takes a turn at the broken feeder while the little black-and-white bird awaits its turn in the deck fencing.

It took the entire summer, and then some, to go through my first bag of bird feed. Now, two weeks in, my second bag is nearly depleted and I am learning that some birds come with no manners at all.

Maybe preference has something to do with it. The first time around I got food that sounded fun to me, with pistachios. This time I opted for unshelled sunflower seeds and I don’t remember what all else. Or maybe we just have different flocks of birds. But consumption is way up.

I don’t know what any of our birds are, outside of the magpies. Lynn, well-versed in her woodcraft, has mumbled “chickadees,” but there’s also something we both call “little brown birds” that land in a passel (that’s an official bird term) on the ground and begin pecking away, only to abruptly fly off to weight down the nearest small tree before beginning the cycle once more. I tried to take a picture one morning of them all lined up on the deck railing, waiting their turns at the feeder, but they would fly off every time I stood at the door with my camera.

Yesterday apparently woodpeckers joined the party, until they abused their privilege and started going to town on the deck itself, at which point Lynn ran them off. But that’s just the way the party is rolling these days.

Following our first freeze the other night — although I am losing Kara’s respect because I won’t come in to work and tell her what our overnight low was out here — I realized my bird feeder was not on the deck railing. When I went looking, I found it on the ground below, the top shattered upon cold landing.

For a time, I considered this the work of some overnight guest, bear or racoon, but eventually I realized either one of those would have likely smashed the entire feeder in an effort to access the contents.

And when it happened a second, third and fourth time on Lynn’s watch, it became clear: it’s a bunch of pushy, shoving birds and their collaborators, like Chipper, the chipmunk still hanging around his deckside resort and using the ledge demarcating our rock skirting from the stucco as his personal superhighway. They are knocking the feeder over as they empty it daily. “Feed me!” As Audrey II commanded to Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors.

None of these birds even care that Marrakesh is on the deck keeping an eye on them. They are busy consuming.

A very abrupt end that wasn’t intended to be an end. I will try to do better tomorrow.

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