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My obsession with birds? In a word, baffling.

Updated: Mar 6, 2020

You'd think I had nothing better to do than to obsessively watch the activity at the bird feeder every morning. Yet, there I am, sipping my coffee or eating a bowl of granola and staring out the window to see who shows up at my crooked-poled feeder.

That doesn't even begin to tell the actual story, because – rain, sleet or snow – even before said coffee or breakfast, I head down the basement steps and out the studio door with the suet feeder and a plastic cup full of seed for the critters.

First, I place 3 good-sized peanuts on the stonewall for the chipmunks that live in our drainpipe, then walk to the center of the yard to sprinkle seed in the feeder and on the ground and then over to the tiny tire swing (also a feeder) with more seed.

I know it's crazy but, hey, we live in Leverett. There are people in this town doing a lot more eccentric things than obsessing over birds.

When the weather's nice and the doors to our bedroom sliders are open or we can sit on the deck, the chatter out there is music to my ears. I enjoy their company.

Of course, we've had visitors other than birds to the feeder, which makes it even more intriguing. At times our yard is like Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom out there.

I've already documented our encounters with a local bear (HERE) who has turned the feeder pole into metal spaghetti. We've also had some late-night visits from fox, a bobcat and a skunk, captured on our trail cam.

Not that all my feeder experiences have been bliss.

My biggest disappointment is the failed attempts to lure other birds species to our yard. Multiple times I have put out halves of oranges hoping to attract orioles, grosbeaks, tanagers, which I have only rarely seen here. The fruit just ends up sitting out there for weeks frozen or moldy without even a single fly-by.

And then there was the "Mealworm Incident."

I bought a bag of dried mealworms specifically hoping to attract bluebirds. I mixed the mealworms in with my regular feeder food and put it out... Nothing. Not only no bluebirds, but NO BIRDS at all! It's as if they were repulsed by the mealworms being in with their food. Three days went by and literally every bird stayed away – even the woodpeckers, who are usually insatiable at the suet feeder!

I was distressed. Sue had to help me sift the rest of mealworms out of my large pail of bird food. And I'm not joking, the next day all the birds were back!

Also, as all bird lovers know, some how, some way you have to make peace with the squirrels. I have a rule: I will feed the little furry brats as long as they stay on the ground. I don't mind them enjoying a snack, but if they get up on your feeder, they eat everything available in a 5-minute sitting! There were a couple of months after the baffle broke off the pole and I didn't do anything to replace it. Those mornings standing guard at the window... watching, watching. When one of the critters climbed up on the bird feeder, I would charge out the slider doors yelling like Clint Eastwood telling those young punks to get off his lawn. Sue of course would then yell at me for opening the sliders on a 20-degree morning. But a guy's got to do what a guy's got to do!

Anyway, the baffle is back up, and for now life is sweet again.

I'm looking forward to spring, the return of the hummingbirds, catbirds and other wildlife, and opening the windows and doors and hearing the chatter again. I enjoy their company.

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