Whittling Away: A feeding frenzy


By Dick Brooks

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of a man named Dick Brooks.

It’s time to feed the birds. I personally blame Walt Disney for this daily duty. 

As a small child, I was exposed to “Mary Poppins.” It was a delightful story with great music, which unfortunately contained one of those sticky songs, you know the ones I mean. If I even think of “Fiddler on the Roof,” I wander around aimlessly for days humming, “If I Were a Rich Man.” The sticky song in “Mary Poppins” for me was “Feed the Birds.”

This has become one of the theme songs for my life.

Chez Pinfeather opens early in the fall. I go dig the feeders out of wherever I put them in the late spring so I’d know right where they were — this doesn’t usually take more than an hour or so. I then have to go find the crowbar to make a new hole for the cute little barn feeder that sits on a pole since I can never find the hole I pulled the pole out of when I put it away. 

I usually find the old hole when the lawn mower disappears into it on the first mow in the spring.

The little platform feeder then gets hung on the plant hanger. There are then two tube feeders that get hung in the locus tree. One of them is supposed to be squirrel-proof, which reminds me to sue the company when I get the chance for deluding me into believing that there is such a thing. 

Actually, the squirrels don’t usually bother it too much since it’s frequently empty. The deer herd that winters under my kitchen window so their grazing ground (our shrubs and perennials) are within easy traveling distance, are responsible for emptying the squirrel-proof feeder. To be fair, the company did not advertise the feeder as being deer-proof.  It seems that Bambi and his band of brigands have learned to French kiss the feeder dry by standing on their hind legs, sticking their tongues into the bottom holes and licking all the seeds out. 

I recently hung the feeders higher where the deer can no longer reach them. This has made the squirrels happy. I then filled the little suet feeder with the cake of fat and seed that I bought at the store when I was picking up a bag of bird seed.

Picking up a bag of bird seed isn’t as simple a project as it may sound. I buy black oil sunflower seeds — nothing fancy, just heavy. The bag weighs 40 pounds and requires a rest break or two when loading it into and taking it out of the car. The breaks aren’t long ones, just long enough for the wheezing to stop and the heart palpitations to slow. 

I then have to empty the large and squishy bag into the barrel near the garage. This is tough but I do enjoy the chorus of bird chirps as background noise as the flocks start to gather. Feeding time!

I fill the little barn first. It’s cute, but the fill hole — part of the little cupola on the top — is small and requires the use of a funnel and considerable shaking to fill it. I move on to the tube feeders as the barn disappears under a mound of moving feathers. I shovel them full, hang them and then I stand back and watch the riot — squirrels, deer and birds are everywhere. 

I worry momentarily if I’m contributing to the obesity problem in America as I watch one of my regular customers, a 5-pound chickadee, try to hang onto the feeder perch as he shovels seeds into his pudgy beak. I’d say something about his weight to him but he gets grumpy and you just don’t mess with a bird who has a Harley tattoo.

I close the barrel of seeds, watch the feeding frenzy for a few more moments and head for the kitchen where I will sit at the table, have another cup of coffee, look out the window at my very active backyard and hum a few choruses of “Feed the Birds” and softly curse Uncle Walty.

Thought for the week — “One great thing about getting old is that you can get out of all kinds of social obligations simply by saying you’re too tired.” – George Carlin

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach columnist Dick Brooks at Whittle12124@yahoo.com.

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