Monday, January 9, 2012

Are Bird Feeders Selfish?

Is it a selfish motivation to put out a bird feeder?  For many years I felt birds should fend for themselves.  They should forage for their own food.  Isn't that the natural way?  I felt providing food for birds, even in a severe winter, was akin to giving a beggar money, making them dependent on handouts.  I feared I was doing the birds an injustice, making them lazy, shiftless and demoralizing them.  As I age, I have changed by thoughts on the matter.  My reasons may be selfish, but I want birds in my garden. 
Available from Lowe's via mail order item# 335583
My youngest daughter gave me a bird feeder, including bird food, for Christmas.  I had my eye on this feeder for some time.  It has a central hopper for seed and four holders on two sides for suet cakes.  I filled the hopper with sunflower chips. 
Available at Lowe's item # 215668
Lots of birds like sunflower seeds, like titmice, chickadees, finches, wrens, nuthatches, cardinals and bluejays.  I placed a suet cake in the feeder.  The suet will attract woodpeckers.   I then hung it outside my breakfast room window.  As I stood admiring my new feeder, feeling good inside, I wondered how long it would take for the birds to find the feeder.

I turned to my son, who was standing in the kitchen, and asked, "How long do you think it will be before the birds find the feeder?"

"Three weeks," was his reply.

Three weeks?  I was hoping it would only take three days.  

One week later, early morning New Years Day, I sat at my iMac writing this blog.  I looked out the second floor window into my back yard.  I saw several crows on the grass.  They were the first birds, of any kind, I saw since I started to look for birds on Christmas day.  I hadn't seen birds in the trees, bushes or even flying in the sky, until these crows.  I thought, maybe, there was some sinister force at work.  Some animal eating all the birds.  Or maybe, some kind of cataclysmic natural disaster about to happen, that only wild animals could sense.  More rationally, I was beginning to fear my timing was too late in the season for this feeder.  I began to doubt the value of my actions.  The mercury level began to fall on my confidenc-o-meter.

Late that afternoon, I had my first visitor to the feeder. 
Damned squirrels!  They will do anything to get food.  I have seen them chew through plastic feeders, leap 20 feet from an overhanging tree branch to a small suspended feeder to get to food.  Squirrels are tenacious critters.  This feeder is all metal.  I think it will survive the squirrels. 
The next Friday, I was at home all day.  I noticed several birds near the feeder, but none at the feeder.  I saw several Juncos and two House Finches, and a woodpecker in a nearby tree.  
Source:All About Birds
I don't think I will ever see Juncos at the feeder.  They only eat off the ground or a low platform feeder.  I don't know how they find enough food.  I didn't see the House Finches at the feeder, but I may have startled them from the feeder when I approached the window.

Whilst looking on the web for bird images for this post, I found a site called Project Feeder Watch.  They have a program for ordinary citizens to count birds at their backyard feeders and then report their numbers to Cornell University for statistical reasons.  Their counting season is from the second week in November through the first Friday in April.  Although I put the bird feeder out almost six weeks later than the beginning of feeder watch season, I joined and will receive tallies and member supplies within the next three weeks.  That will leave me all of Feb and March to count birds and add my findings to the data base at Cornell.  I will enjoy adding my data.

I want birds in my garden.  I enjoy watching birds.  I think they are beautiful.  For those reasons, I put out a bird feeder.  Some people may call me selfish.  I can live with that.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

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