stat counnnter

Friday, October 26, 2007

Live and Learn

Did you ever have what you thought was a simple yet neato idea, a cool thing to do, and have it turn out to be a disaster? Well, that was me last week.

I had been impressed with a few friends who had pretty birds coming to bird feeders in the trees in their back yards. Now that the tree in my front yard was big enough, I decided to buy a feeder and be nice to nature. (Moron!) I bought a wild bird feeder at a local store. It was made of plastic, square and had four feeding ports. I bought a small bag of wild bird seed, hung the benevolence in my tree and waited for nature to show her gratitude. (Idiot!)

After an hour or so I looked out my front window and observed a handful of birds chowing down at the feeder and said unto myself "this is good!"

About 2 hrs later I looked again and observed about 35-40 birds in my tree waiting their turn. Then I noticed about 35-40 more birds on the ground apparently also feeding. But on what? I went outside to inspect and saw seed on the ground. The feeder trays had a tiny hole in them obviously for rainwater drainage. Evidently, some of the seeds were small enough to fall through. Either that or the feeder birds were sloppy eaters.

I went back into the house and watched as the 80 or so birds returned and said unto myself "Oh s--t!" I decided to step back and consider the facts I had observed on this day.

First, the birds were all sparrows, no pretty birds.

Second, at the base of my tree is a ring of white bricks which border a planting of Hens and Chicks which were growing nicely. But I noticed that my once green Hens and Chicks were now turning white along with parts of the lawn.

Third, those birds finished off about 2 pounds of feed in 5 hrs flat. Keeping it full was going to be expensive.

Fourth, I reasoned that if there are that many sparrows in my neighborhood, they certainly aren't in any danger of starving and definitely don't need me to feed them.

Fifth and lastly, since this was unfolding in my front yard, my neighbors had to be looking out their window wondering "WTF is he doing?"

So, since winter is almost here, I have decided to take down this particular feeder and do a little research over the winter. Maybe I'll think about getting special feeders like hummingbird or finch feeders or some such. Maybe I'll consider putting the feeders in my back yard perhaps hanging from the garage corners. In the meantime I will take solace in the idea that I didn't make a mistake but rather, had a learning experience, and that's a good thing.

1 comment:

Burgess Laughlin said...

A minor suggestion from an urban apartment dweller who observes wildlife (bums, birds, etc.) from his window and on long walks: The best way to attract a variety of birds is to provide a variety of plants on which (berries), in which (bugs) and around which (bugs) birds feed "naturally."

The key seems to be variety. One type of vegetation will attrack some birds but not others. Of course, this may mean more landscaping than you would like to do. But gradually adding native plants of various sorts may slowly build your land into a busy bird area.

Burgess Laughlin

P. S. -- Most birds that I have observed feeding at public troughs, so to speak, are indeed sloppy eaters. They scatter, I would guess, ten times more seeds than they actually consume directly from the feeder itself. Maybe this is an evolutionary thing. By scattering a lot of seeds, they may ensure dissemination of the seeds and thus lots of new plants next year -- to yield more seeds for more birds. Maybe.