Friday, February 17, 2017

Living Color


It’s a classic New England winter picture – snow covered ground dotted with black bare-naked tree skeletons and a single red cardinal as the only spot of color.  Mars and I witnessed it from our family room window just the other day after a total of 18” of white stuff brought to us by storms “Chris” and “Diana”.  Other than the russet patch on the shoulders of some of our gray squirrels it is the only non-monochromatic hue in our front yard landscape. 
             
(These squirrels have their own feeding station – a corncob holder attached to one of our oak trees.  This provides a daily flash of yellow, which lasts about as long as the time it takes for one of the tree rodents to wake up and rediscover that their first meal of the day is back again.  They then move on to search for seeds that I may have scattered on the ground the night before.)
             
The male cardinal was visiting our sunflower feeder.  We presume it was half of a paired couple that we have seen periodically on our property – singing from the trees throughout the spring, summer, and early fall – rummaging for food during the winter, but only it seems during a snowfall.
             
Why?
             
According to wild-bird-watching.com it turns out that, in spite of their inclusion in the illustration on our bags of oily black sunflower seeds, cardinals really prefer to dine on insects, spiders, wild fruits, berries, and weed seeds. In the winter, they load up on seeds and berries since insects are much, much harder to come across.
             
This makes me feel much better about the periodic lack of birds, and particularly cardinals, at our feeders.  For one thing Mars and I, in fact, have several fruit bearing perennial plants in our gardens, which we do not cut them back during the cold weather, for the very purpose of nourishing the berry-eaters.  Moreover it takes away the guilt that the bird-feeder denial movement tries to induce with their allegations that providing store-bought sustenance to our avian friends makes them weak-willed and will lead to their death by starvation should this entitlement not be their some day.
             
We were actually considering adding a covenant to the deed to our house requiring any future owner to continue this long-standing charitable activity in order to forestall any type of ravenous avian insurrection.
             
It seems that “our” birds will do just fine on their own.
             
Now the squirrels on the other hand….
             
  

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