Friday, November 26, 2004

Feasting at the banqueting table…

I enjoy watching birds. Today we watched a big pileated woodpecker (think Woody Woodpecker) working on a rotted limb in one of our oak trees. And a little later I had bluebirds at the birdbath that sits on our old dining room table and will later be rigged with a heat source so that it does not freeze when the temperature plummets. The birds also get sunflower seeds and homemade suet cakes. I know there is a philosophic debate among conservationists about whether bird feeding is a good idea. I compromise by feeding them much less in the late spring and early summer so that the parents of the fledglings are encouraged to teach the babies where the natural sources of food are to be found instead of training them to be dependent on me. I am also entertained by the chipmunks (they are so cute), even though I suspect they waste large amounts of seeds—I frequently find clumps of sunflowers sprouting in my houseplants that summer outdoors. Other critters that might like to join the feast are not so welcome. The suet comes in at night so the opossums and coons don’t run off with it, I don’t put any more seed out after 3 p.m. so there won’t be too much left for the pack rats and mice, and when too many squirrels show up, then out comes the live trap. In the last four days I have relocated 3 of them to a nice wooded area at the abandoned KOA campground about a half-mile away. Plenty of natural food for them there, and they can’t find their way back—they’d have to cross the 4-lane interstate to try it. They really are better off there – had I been able to get the skin off the first pesky squirrel R shot several years ago, the alternative would be the stew pot.

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