the trouble with birds

The goldfinches are back, which means many trips to buy thistle seed, because once the birds discover the feeder they’re like pigs at a trough. They make the saddest sounds, “Thistle, must have thistle, more, more, more.”

(I find it interesting …..maybe that’s not the right word…..that the seed is now spelled as “nyjer”, a not so subtle reminder of this country’s history of racism–a history which is still being written. Racism and xenophobia are very much with us even today.)

The hummingbirds are back, and it seems like I interrupt them every time I walk out into the garden. I have a feeder, with four parts water to one part sugar, which I renew every few days (every day in hot weather), but plenty of flowers for them to look at, too.

This past winter I started throwing out safflower seed for the doves. European collared doves, as it turned out, an invasive species (horrors). Nice birds, with their call of ihhh ihhh, but they got so piggish I even put safflower in the feeder (on the same stand the hummingbird feeder is now), and the metal stand couldn’t bear the weight of five doves, so the thing was bent over almost to the ground all winter. And now I have safflower plants coming up all over the garden.

What I really want is mourning doves, with that lovely call I first heard in my grandfather’s garden in Los Angeles back in the 1950s, and I was very pleased to see a pair of them (possibly the same pair as last year?) return a few weeks ago.

I think I saw a female oriole, so I put out the oriole feeder, with the obligatory grape jelly. Still waiting to see a male. Robins discovered the jelly last year and would eat it in one gulp, which I thought was rather boorish. And then later in the year the feeder becomes lined with white-faced hornets, again like pigs at a trough. The orioles don’t feel much like dealing with a herd of hornets and look for other food.

I was prompted to write this because of the constant noise, chick-a-dee-dee-dee, being made right on the patio. My wife bought this rustic bird house some years ago, and it’s been sitting, nailed actually, to one of the rails of the patio cover, unused, ever since.

Until this year, when the chickadees decided to try to make it a home. I disturb them every time I walk outside.

Good enough reason to stay inside and take a nap.

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