Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Pining For a Feathered Friend or Two

By K. Taylor, Aurora ON.  I’m starting to suspect that I may be the subject of a well planned, wide scale snubbing campaign. It seems no matter what I do, how hard I try, there is an element of residents who want nothing to do with me. I try to please, to entice and yet my overtures are rebuffed in silent disgust.

Yes my self esteem has gone to the birds, but that seems to be about all they want to take from me; they certainly want nothing to do with my bird seed.

What makes it all worse, or at least more embarrassing, is that I used to mock my parents for such pandering. Oh how I would laugh as they’d dash for their Field Guide to look up the new visitor preening in the bird bath. They aren’t birders as such, more admirers of the beauty around them. Sounds rather charming when put like that but in my youth, oh how I rolled my eyes and muttered sarcastic barbs when out of earshot.

Even my own children get in the game, cheerfully perusing the pages of said book for their favourites. It is a guide for Eastern Canada, no jaunty toucans or flashy flamingos here; just jays and hawks and Chickadees. I scoffed less at my children, because after all that’s not a very nice thing to do; and I have to admit to adoring the chickadees, who could help it? But I still didn’t get it.

Until, one day, I did. I don’t know when the change occurred; when I started to look for the gentle ruffling of feathers on branch; but I found (much to my chagrin and my parent’s amusement) that I too had become beguiled.

I would sit in their living room and gaze out the window onto a magical scene, whatever the season. It was something like watching the drive through at your local coffee shop, looking at that bird feeder. Birds of various sizes and colours, swooping in for the aviary equivalent of a double-double.

Quick,” someone would shout, sometimes even me. “Get the bird book!

And we would thumb through the well thumbed pages, carefully studying the bird in question.

Are those stripes on its tummy?
No, more like spots.
Is the head dark grey medium grey?
It’s black …

We don’t always agree. But slowly over time I got to appreciate the beauty that I’d been blind to for so long.

My father made me my very own bird feeder for my birthday last year. I proudly hung it in the garden and the birds came. And then I learned something else I never knew about birds. Like any customer; they expect their order to be placed correctly. The budget bird seed that I had cheaply hauled into my cart (it was a big bag) now lay scattered and sprouting between our patio stones.

They don’t like cheap food,” my mother chided shaking her head. So perhaps the feeder is less avian coffee shop and more bistro. Think sidewalk tables with cheerful umbrellas. Think being brought a stale doughnut when you ordered the chef’s salad.

This year Santa helped her out. The big, squishy gift turned out to be a large bag of quality bird seed. With hearts that fluttered as mighty as any feathered wing my husband and I filled the feeder and sat back to wait.

“I would sit in their living room and gaze out the window onto a magical scene, whatever the season.”

It is now mid-February and I am still waiting. From time to time I sneak a peek; squeeze my body behind the puny curtains then peer delicately round their edges, afraid to startle any visitors. But no, there is no one there; not even a squirrel can be tempted, which really rattles the self confidence. I’ve taken to stealing glimpses from between the dusty slats of the blinds; stealthy as a hawk; but there is no one there to surprise. I’ve traipsed through the snow and shaken the food around a bit in an effort to freshen things up, we’ll see how that goes. We’ve come up with some theories; the flapping of a nearby patio umbrella that never made it into the garage before the snow came; the lack of mature trees in neighbouring gardens; the inferior quality of seed previously on offer. Perhaps I need to put up a sign: Under New Management.

But I think, in the end I shall have to wait until spring. Until then I shall visit my parents, curl up in the recliner with a mug of tea and watch the cardinals, the mourning doves and the lovely chickadees as they frolic tauntingly. I trudge to the cupboard and pull out the sack of remaining quality seed; perhaps there is a secret here; something I’ve missed. But nothing jumps out at me, save for the cheerful, jeering bird printed on the plastic. Attracts a wide variety of colourful birds! It lies. Cardinals, Finches and Buntings, though I know not what a bunting might be. Perhaps I should consult the bird book.

K. Taylor
Aurora, ON


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here