Long time readers of this blog may know that I really love birds. I love listening to them, I love watching them, I love observing their feather colors and identifying them with my nerdy bird reference guide. My daughter has also picked up the birding gene. She LOVES to watch them in our yard and learn about the different birds common to our area. We watch the birds and go through the bird guide together. It's a whole big warm and fuzzy Discovery Channel moment. So we got a bird feeder.
*ominous music begins playing in the background*
I mentioned on a recent Tea Time that my love affair with our bird feeder recently went through a crisis due to an uninvited, furry interloper in our yard who was going after the the seed that inevitably drops to the ground. Said furry interloper is decidedly NOT a squirrel, whom I would not object to at all. Squirrels are CUTE. I know many people hate them, and classify them as the rodents that they technically are, but seriously. They have sweet faces and bushy tails, how bad could they be? Granted, I wouldn't want them in my house, but they have never shown any interest in such a notion. They want to scurry around and play with fire by dashing across the road in front of my car, eat bird seed off the ground in my yard, and then hurry back to their tree. Fine with me.
No, aforementioned interloper is far more nefarious than his squirrel cousins. He's full bodied and has a long, skinny, hairless tail.
*shudder of revulsion*
His name begins with an 'r.' I'm dying even as I type this. At any rate, we put out a catcher thing, which he promptly ignored, and thus we simply let the food source dry up. Anne and I mourned the loss of our bird friends who didn't find our yard nearly so interesting to hang out in without food awaiting them in the feeder. And our other "friend" also disappeared after a few days. We all breathed a sigh of relief, and I sprang into action in full-out librarian mode to find a solution to our little problem. A friend and fellow bird-lover suggested that it may have been our bird food. Switch up to a much less interesting blend of seed, and though we wouldn't get the same variety of birds to our feeder, we also wouldn't attract the scheming vermin. Done.
I waited a full week, missing our Cardinal pals the whole time. Another several days. Then Anne and I cautiously put the innocuous seed mix into the feeder for a trial run. The birds sniffed it right out and were delighted. We welcomed them with open arms. My heart sang at seeing the Cardinals, Blue Jays and House Finches once again pecking away in our yard. The feeder emptied, and I left it alone for another full week. I wanted to assure that the ground eating birds ate all of the excess seed before filling the feeder again. The week passed, and so last night Anne and I filled the feeder again. Cautious optimism was alive in my heart.
As I came out of the shower yesterday after dinner, I saw the female Cardinal lounging in our backyard from out the back window. I beamed at her and headed upstairs to get dressed.
Several minutes later, I'm still upstairs getting ready for our evening of popcorn eating, movie watching and knitting when Anne bursts in:
"MOM! The Mommy Cardinal is out there!"
Indeed. Adore that Mommy Cardinal.
"And a sparrow!"
Not nearly so interesting, but I have no beef with the sparrows. They can't help it that they lack the pizazz of other birds. It's just the way God made them. ;-)
"And our mouse friend!"
"Yeah, and...Wait, WHAT?!"
I dashed to the window in disbelief. Indeed, the little *#!&er was out there helping himself, without a care in the world, blissfully unaware of the heartbreak that his presence was causing in our house. Because this second little foray made it official - we cannot have a traditional bird feeder. The urban neighborhood that we live in just does not make for the right conditions. I think that poor Anne was hoping that by elevating his status to a friendly one, we would let him stay and peacefully co-exist with the birds, but of course, NO, NO NO. We must once again dry up the food source. And then we cannot refill it.
I was teary-eyed watching the Cardinal pair last night before I went to bed. We probably will still occasionally see them after this, but only fleetingly and it won't be the same. I think we'll pick up a hummingbird feeder the next time we're at the hardware store, as they eat nectar, which as a liquid will not pose a rodent problem. Anne is excited about that, so we'll give it a go. I'll still in mourning over the loss of the other birds, but carry on I must.
I need to be cheered up. Who has an amusing story to share in the comments? :-)