It started in the morning, about 3 hours before it was anticipated. The fat flakes fell all through the day and into the night. The snow piled up against our front door. The wind blew more snow against our back door. By morning we had more than 8 inches, which is a lot, but less than what my sister Cindy got in Central New Jersey. She said they got 15″. Bless my son Max. He arrived at 7 a.m. this morning and shoveled me out. But I’m ahead of my story. The one I want to tell you about the birds.
I feed the wild birds regularly. They provide me with daily entertainment so it’s my way of saying thanks. Yesterday, by mid-morning, a fair number of bird were huddled under two metal chairs I rescued from my parents house (sentimental value, friends); they were trying to stay out of the heavy snowfall. The chairs sit almost directly across from the bird feeder. And my kitchen window. So I immediately saw the hopeful looks the sparrows, blue jays, cardinals and mourning doves gave me as they tried to keep warm; they were waiting for me. Well, okay, they were waiting to be fed. By me.
I didn’t want to go out in the freezing cold and heavy snowfall; I’ve been having trouble with my fingers going numb and cold exacerbates the pain as they “thaw out.” But I knew I couldn’t hold out for long. The birds were hungry. I bundled up and shoveled my way through the ever-mounting snow to clear a feeding spot on the ground; did you know that some birds will only eat off the ground? And I filled the feeder too. Almost before I got back in the house, fingers frozen stiff despite my gloves, the woodpecker swooped in for a bite to eat. Have you ever seen a large woodpecker at a feeder? His tail is made for giving him traction on trees. When he’s at a feeder he looks all kinds of awkward as his tail tries to help balance him on the slender perch.
Within minutes I watched a dozen birds jostling under the two metal chairs, all trying to peck up seeds as fast as their beaks would move. Without food, they would freeze faster in the bitter cold and mounting wind. I’ve noticed that when the weather conditions are adverse a wide variety of birds will suddenly all seem to get along. No pecks are thrown or beaks opened in anger. They hop around each other and, well, eat. So they can stay alive to fight another day. The blue jays aren’t bullies! The cardinals don’t chase the sparrows!
Everyone mostly take turns at the birdbath too. Since I keep a heater in it, the birds have fresh water when they need it. I love when one bird — this year it’s a catbird — perches on the heating element and soaks up the steamy heat for minutes at a time. I guess it’s like a sauna of sorts. The catbird will sit basking in the steam until another bird swoops in and reminds him he’s been there too long.
Do you feed the wild birds?