In 2016 my bird feeder won an award—given by the birds—as bird feeder of the year. I was flying high! and delighted to receive the accolades bestowed upon “That Individual Who Fills His, Or Her, Feeder With The Finest Selection Of Seeds And Suet.” The award is not political and is determined by a panel of birds of many colors and species working together in a movement known as “All Birds Matter.” The results are calculated by the number of birds at a feeder and a poll of chirps as determined by Blue Jays and Downy Woodpeckers. The poll has a margin of error of 3 to 5 chirps.
How have I garnered this award? Well, I travel from seed store to seed store, searching for the perfect brand of seeds. I order on Amazon and even grow my own sunflowers that the birds may dine on organic seed. The result is a long list consisting of thistle, cracked corn, peanuts, safflower and sugar water for the hummingbirds. This selection was recently praised in the Audubon Gazette edited by Bernard Byrd.
Yes, every spring I anticipate greeting Blue Jays, Crows, Red Wing Black Birds, Titmouse, (or is it Titmice?) Chickadees, Sparrows, Cardinals and beneath the feeder a lineup of Mallard ducks. Every year, that is, until this year when nary a bird visited my feeder.
What happened? Although still in the throes of post traumatic stress, caused by loss, I have acquired some seeds of understanding. In certain months during the year my bird feeders are empty. This situation occurs because I am not a full-time resident at Brant Lake and therefore cannot fill the feeders. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find a bird sitter, or more accurately, a bird flyer.
However, in the past I was not worried. Within a day or two of my return to Brant Lake the birds fly to my home. I assume they learn of my presence via Carrier Pigeon. 3000 years ago these pigeons were used to proclaim the winner of the Olympics. In later centuries they were the message bearers for Genghis Kahn as well as delivering the outcome of the battle of Waterloo. In accordance with this tradition, they are currently the messengers announcing that I have returned to Brant Lake.
Not this year! After an absence of several months I filled my feeders with shelled sunflower seeds, at great expense, assured by professional birders that this seed was a rare delicacy for birds since they did not have to expend energy in removing the shell. In the human world this would be the equivalent of ordering a boned fish.
In spite of this extravagant seed, the birds have, so far, rejected my seed. There is not a bird in sight. Unfortunately, after further consultation I have been told that my prolonged absence had engendered hostility among the bird population. “Either you feed me or you do not feed me! Either you sustain a friendship or you do not sustain a friendship!” Friendship between man and birds or, for that matter, within the human community, is not a sometime thing—fostered at one moment, permitted to lapse the next. Over the summer I hope to repair my relationship with the birds who have taught me the importance of consistency in friendship.
Sadly, I do not know how to approach my feathered friends. I suppose I will simply wing it!