It's a big decision when to put the bird feeder up. It signals a resignation to the inconvenient truth that any kind of decent weather is over, that snow is probably on the way, that, henceforth and practically every day, depending on the guzzling rate, I'm going to be climbing precariously onto the woodpile, unhooking the feeder and re-filling it, all with freezing fingers. And just so I can spend the whole of the oncoming winter acting as skivvy to a bunch of noisy, feathered ne'er do-wells and their many and varied furry friends.
Not to mention that the sort of bird-seed they like costs a fortune. The local supermarket knows full well that, although, we're not an affluent area, people would rather starve themselves than see the Chickadees and Cardinals and Juncos go hungry. As winter approaches, they put up the bird-seed display with endless rows of different varieties - "Gourmet", naturally being the best and the most expensive. There are all kinds of styles of feeder. There are those blocks of suet - with nuts, with berries, with you-name-it, all embellished with the word "treat", just to make you feel guilty that you're not buying that extra little something. There are bells and blocks and bricks of seeds, there are socks for thistleseeds and plastic tubes.... And it's no good buying the cheap stuff. They just spit it out all over the porch..
And a bird-feeder in Western New York is not just for the birds. All kinds of scroungers come by, the most spectacular being the bear that showed up at a friend's feeder and lay nonchalantly on his back on her lawn, holding the feeder in all four paws and dispensing its contents down his gullet. When surprised, he made off with the feeder under one arm.
There is also an ethical dilemma, since we have one neighbour with a particular interest in the feeder. She is small, adorable, affectionate and utterly ruthless.
Still, the feeder does provide a cabaret, which is far more interesting than the US elections, or, for that matter, American television. I never saw much point in bird-watching until I came here. Now I've got to know the various avian foibles and rivalries and can happily spend a long time just letting them entertain me. I'll keep you posted.