Friday, December 01, 2006


The black sunflower seed, squirrel-proof feeders, with a few finches stopping for a quick snack.

Our bird feeders (there are three in the back yard at the moment, plus a hummingbird feeder) have turned the space into a kind of mini-zoo. And I, who used to hate birds, find myself fascinated and
entranced by the endless variety of our feathered visitors. Sam, the larger of our two cats, now on permanent house-arrest after too many visits to the vet, spends much of his day stretched out atop a small book shelf, watching the birds as they swoop by (I assume he wants to lunge through the window and grab a couple of them, but I've learned that trying to read minds, whether human or feline, is an exercise in futility).

Last spring, we bought a squirrel-proof bird feeder that closes off when the squirrel's weight pulls on it (this after watching most of the black sunflower seeds disappear into the squirrels' bellies for a month or so), and we added a second a couple of weeks ago. The feeders empty every three or four days, so we're now buying the largest bags of black sunflower and thistle seeds we can find, in an attempt to keep up with the birds' winter appetites. If someone had told me, even fifteen years ago, that I'd want to entice birds to visit my home, I would've laughed 'til I couldn't breathe. But, as is so often true in my life, that particular 'never' (as in "I'll NEVER like birds!") has proven to be incorrect, and I love seeing a new species perched on one of the railings on the back deck, so I can grab one of the half dozen bird books stored on a shelf under Sam's perch, and try to figure out what new variety of bird has discovered the Rancho Dleepow Lunch Stand and Bird Sanctuary. This morning, we saw a northern flicker out there, along with the usual house/purple finches, chickadees, and junkos. The Annas hummingbirds are sticking around, and will, I hope, continue to visit all winter. We get an occasional visit from a pair of raucous jays, who chase the smaller birds away while they peck at the seeds that have fallen onto the flower beds, but they don't linger long, and the others return fairly quickly.

My dislike of birds can be traced to my childhood, living in a big city, where the predominant bird population was pigeons (or, as I call them, 'flying rats'). Pigeons were EVERYWHERE in the city, as was pigeon poop. Flocks of pigeons would swoop down to grab at a fallen bit of hot dog bun some careless pedestrian dropped on the sidewalk, making it both difficult and unpleasant to navigate past that spot. I won't bother to go into graphic detail about pigeon droppings, other than to say "BLECCHH!". It wasn't until I got sick and stopped working that I began to see the beauty and variety of the bird life in our back yard in California, and I've been given the opportunity to see (and appreciate) an even wider range of bird species since we moved into our new home in Portland.

So, I'm now (gasp) a bit of a bird watcher myself. Who knew?


Zack said...

'Junko' may well be the best name for a bird species ever.

Libbi said...

True, indeed!