Friday, January 22, 2010

New Bill of Fare

Bill of Fare

* All Natural Black Oil Sunflower seeds

* Handpicked Thistle Pips
* Organic Songbird Mix (milo, millet, safflower) (*)
* Hi-Fat, Hi-Energy Suet
* Free Range Pigeon (**)

(*) Exciting new item

(**) Crowd favorite returning after too long an absence

As a result of some Christmas presents, and the resurgence of the laws of nature, we are now offering a full menu at our front yard bird cafeteria. In addition we have added a new selection of serving utensils to heighten the dining experience for even the most discriminating avian palate.

First, the hardware.

Our personal trainer at the health club gave us three "Seed Ball Bird Feeders". The six-inch round orbs are made of "high-quality metal" and feature a "patented mesh feeding system". They come in colors - ours are red, blue and yellow - and hang from a short link chain. I thought at first they might have been medieval exercise equipment, perhaps from the Inquisition.

Fortunately they were not.

According to the Internet the feeder holds seven cups of black oil sunflower seeds. That seemed wrong to me - not the volume, something for which my estimating skills are basically zero - but the content. You could probably load three and one half pints of the oversized Helianthus kernels into the round feeder. But there was no way in hell that your even the most voracious bird could get them out through the undersized apertures - even if it grasped the food firmly in its tiny little beak and pushed its skinny little legs with all its might.

I filled one feeder with sunflower seeds and two of them with a mix of milo, millet and safflower that our brother-in-law had given us. The one is still hopelessly filled, while the contents of the others are dwindling slowly - although I have only seen one small finch dining thereon.

My b-in-l also gave us a new "Squirrel-Be-Gone" squirrel-proof feeder . Now I know you are thinking that "squirrel-proof feeder" is a true oxymoron - like Army Intelligence, government worker, or creation science - but wait.

Outwardly this device looks like any other plastic-tube-with-perches-and-seed-windows one. Inwardly it has a spring-activated, seed-lockdown mechanism.

"Puussez sur le perchoir pour voir comment - Squirrel-Be-Gone - utilize le poids de l'ecureuil pour bloquer l'acces aux graines"

Sorry, those were the French instructions. What I meant to say was,

"Push down on the perch to see how Squirrel-Be-Gone uses the squirrel's own weight to block access to the seed."

J'ai fait, [I did] and it worked [cela a fonctionne].

This feeder accommodates the large sunflower seeds. I filled it, hung it up, and the contents quickly went down by fifty percent. Mars and I have seen sparrows and finches eating at it - but no squirrels. Someday soon I expect to look out and see either (a) one of the tree rodents desperately thrashing to remove its nearly severed head from within the dropdown windows, or (b) the entire apparatus lying in pieces on the ground while the squirrels dance triumphantly among the ruins.

Speaking of decapitation brings me to the last item on our list of entrees.

The other day, as we were returning from our morning workout, Mars noticed a flash of movement and what looked to be - and turned out to be - a bloody, beheaded pigeon lying on our front yard paver path.

The "flash of movement" quickly reappeared in the form of a crow-sized, white-breasted hawk that landed atop the corpse and commenced to rip and devour it while the two of us nibbled uncomfortably at our own luncheon plates.

Several crows gathered around but the raptor with the red dripping beak tended to its chores with the single-minded dedication of a football fan during the NFL playoffs.

When we checked back later all of the evidence other than a few stray feathers was gone. We were surprised and pleased. The next day when we returned home again the carcass was back in the same spot - but this time in the form of leftovers for a crow.

The body stayed there overnight and the next morning I threw it into the trash. Based upon the final remains it looks as if hawks and crows are definitely "breast guys", in case you are interested.

Mars and I feel certain that our new bill of fare offers something to satisfy any appetite, from the most pacifistic Vegan to the bloodthirstiest carnivore. And the possibilities of sparrows getting hernias from the feeding balls, and squirrels losing their heads over the new spring-loaded feeder promise hours of inexpensive home-entertainment for the two of us - as well as for that flock of falcons now continuously circling over our house.

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