I believe in a simple, not so common, basic object. It provides food, it enables small things to grow and prosper, it helps more than what it intends, and it’s a small act of kindness. I believe in a bird feeder.
Every morning, before I go to work, I carry a five-pound bag of birdseed to the hanging bird feeder in my backyard. It doesn’t matter if it’s half full or completely empty. I fill it up to the rim. Throughout the day many different kinds of birds will stop and feed. When I get home, I will be curious to see if they ate everything or left some behind for the next day.
I live in a suburban town, in southern New Jersey, near a large metropolitan city. Our house is on approximately a quarter acre of land with neighbors and fences on three out of four sides. A half mile away is a large four lane highway. But even in this non-Montana like area, wildlife appears and lives.
The ecosystem begins with the seeds in the feeder. The seed attracts a gazillion common sparrows, a few pairs of cardinals, too many pigeons for my taste, lots of purple finches, mourning doves, a slew of robins, blue jays, the occasional nuthatch, chickadee, or wren. Sometimes we see grackles, starlings, catbirds, and cowbirds. Lately we have had some hawks that also feed on the birds or pigeons. The local population of cats unfortunately have made a meal or two out of the some of the smaller bids. Depending on the time of the year, other birds may fly in and rest from their journey as they migrate either north or south.
But the seeds are the start. The shells of the eaten seeds fall into a large blue recycling bin I keep beneath the feeder, as do the seeds that get knocked out by the birds. Afterwards, the local population of squirrels crawl in and eat what’s left behind. Anything not eaten will eventually end up in my compost bin not 20 feet away from the bird feeder itself. With this constant supply of food in the area, we have been able to attract so many birds that some have stayed and have made nests around our house.
As darkness falls every night, other critters are also are being fed. The cottontail rabbits come out from their dens and the shadows to feed on the leftovers, as does the occasional wandering raccoon from a nearby creek.
In this day and age of go, go, and go, its nice to stop and be able to hear the sounds of a mourning dove, a singing wren, or chirping sparrows, instead of the sounds of passing cars and jet planes. So I believe in a dull, ordinary, wooden bird feeder.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.