First Of All, Why Are You Telling Us This?
So the other day, Blueviolet at A Nut In A Nutshell had a post about how she was cornered in the store by a crazy bird lady who talked her ear off for 40 minutes about how amazing birds are. In my comment, I told Blueviolet that I used to BE that crazy bird lady — until the government shut me down. Blueviolet basically begged me to tell this story and since I won’t be around for Writer’s Workshop this week due to an impromptu trip to the beach, this will be my weekly post. If you hate it, direct all negative comments to Blueviolet. Thank you.
Once upon a time, I decided I wanted to have a bird feeder. Mr. Jenners and I had recently moved into our first house, and it had a lovely bay window in the kitchen. I envisioned a quaint little bird feeder and myself as Snow White — with birds landing on my shoulders as I sang beautifully and watered my garden. They would eat out of the palm of my hand, and I would be in tune with nature. (Never mind that Simon would kick me out of American Idol auditions and I have a black thumb. This was my fantasy!)
So I got myself my little bird feeder and embarked on what proved to be an expensive and drama-filled experience — culminating in government intervention. But I get ahead of myself.
I started small — with one little feeder. Not knowing what I was doing, I just got any old feeder and filled it up with the cheapest birdseed I could find. Within a day, the squirrels located and systematically emptied and clawed apart the bird feeder. The Squirrel War had begun. If you’ve ever attempted to feed birds, you’ll know that your #1 enemy is squirrels. They are agile, persevering, wily and smart. There are very few bird feeders that they do not know how to empty and destroy. After several tries, I finally hit upon a feeder and seed combination that seemed squirrel proof. Already, Mr. Jenners was a bit alarmed at the expense my little bird feeding habit was costing. Little did he know this was only the beginning.
Then began the glory days of my bird feeding career. The word quickly spread throughout Bird Land that there was a hip new bistro in town. Flocks of birds began arriving. The diversity was amazing. I bought a little bird book and started keeping track of all the different birds I saw. Even Mr. Jenners began getting involved. We quickly began classifying them as “Regular Birds” and “Premium Birds.” Basically, anything that was a boring brown color was a Regular Bird. The Premium Birds were the brightly colored birds — your cardinals, blue jays, red-bellied woodpeckers, red-winged blackbirds, goldfinches and so forth. One time, a peacock showed up. (Kidding.) It was ridiculously exciting to spot new birds. I added more feeders with specialized seeds for particular birds. I bought a bird bath (with a heater for the winter). I spent A LOT of money on bird seed, and spent lots of time cleaning the feeders and putting fresh water in the birdbath.
I really enjoyed all the birds except for one kind — mourning doves. These birds are idiots. Not only do they walk around all day under the feeder like a bunch of morons — waiting for more intelligent birds to knock seed down for them — they are wildly inefficient. According to my bird book, they build flimsy nests that can be easily knocked down by breezes. According to wild-bird-watching.com, “this loose pile of twigs is so lightly put together that often you can see through it from the bottom.” Sometimes they even build nests on the ground. DUH! Seriously, just watch mourning doves for a little bit and you’ll come around to my way of thinking. These birds are nitwits. I would often see them sleeping in the grass! Seriously, it is amazing that there are so many of them because it seems like they don’t have the wits to survive very long.
Then — in the moment that signaled the beginning of the end — the city birds began to show up — intruders from nearby Philadelphia. Somehow the word had spread to Philly, and we started getting flocks of pigeons each morning. Huge flocks that would block out the sun. (Kidding. Maybe more like 30 birds — which is a lot of pigeons for a suburban lawn.)
Neither Sleet or Rain or Snow Would Prevent Me From Taking Care of My Birds
(How Dorky Do I Look?)
And then I came home and found a letter on the front door from the County Health Department. It stated that a neighbor had filed a complaint about my bird feeding operation, and unless I shut it down before the next inspection, I would face fines and possible jail time. (OK…I’m kidding about the jail time. But there were fines involved and a citation I think.)
I was a bit peeved that whoever had filed the complaint didn’t talk to me first. I’m a reasonable person, and I would have worked something out. And I really went out of my way to keep the area clean. There is nothing like getting a complaint filed against you to turn you against the neighbors. Everyone was a suspect. Was it Mr. Wong from across the street — the one who let his young child play outside unsupervised and whose kid I repeatedly walked home after he wandered into the street? Was it the old lady next door who was suspicious that I seemed to time my comings and goings so as to avoid a 45-minute discussion about her various aches and pains? (I know…be more compassionate, Jenners! But every time I left the house she seemed to be lurking. It was too much.) Was it the weirdo people who seemed to have someone hidden in their upstairs room?
Mr. Jenners and I discussed the suspects at length but never figured out who it was. So we did what we had to do and shut it down. It was just as well because not too long after the government-forced shutdown, another mouth to feed arrived. And this one proved to be way more labor-intensive.