We finally remembered our promise to our winged friends, and replenished their seed supply last night.
I watch out my window this morning as birds flock around the feeder.
Ten, maybe twelve small brown birds (that with my limited birding knowledge I’ve decided to call sparrows) find strength in numbers.
The aggressors, perched up high, combatively defend their positions should another bird dare to pass within a few inches. They also literally crap on those perched below.
The bottom feeders seem to know their place as well. They don’t challenge those above them, but simply peck away at the food, glad for the chance of a full winter stomach. Accepting of their lot in life.
A cardinal arrives, and despite the fact that the rolled up seed bag sitting inches from his feet is clearly labeled “Cardinal Bird Seed” as well as the fact that he’s twice the other birds’ size, he contents himself with castoffs strewn on the deck floor. He’s a beauty: flaming scarlet from his peaked head to the tops of his scrawny bird legs. From the looks of his distended belly, it would seem that focusing on deck scraps yields a fairly generous return.
A woodpecker swoops in from time to time, and the winged gang scatters. Woody quickly grabs his fill, and flies away to enjoy his breakfast in solitude . . . with a cup of coffee, no doubt, steaming hot and black, and the Wall Street Journal. He’ll be back for seconds soon.
Why do the sparrows fear him yet ignore the cardinal? Are they afraid that he’ll turn and use his drill-like beak on them?
Finally, Mr. Squirrel arrives on the scene: a nut brown bully with a bushy tail and black, beady eyes who pounces on the wooden deck railing, setting off a sudden wing storm. He scurries up and across the “squirrel-proof” metal bird feeder hanger like Nadia Comăneci on the balance beam, shimmies down the swinging tube, and stuffs his cheeks to his heart’s content with nary a bird in view: not sparrow, nor cardinal, nor woodpecker.
They’ve all flown the coop, as it were.
He’s king of the feeder, ruler of the coveted winter food supply intended for an entirely different species. Apparently, he has also flagrantly ignored the writing on the seed bag. He has Trumped them all with his size, his might, and his birdseed blitzkrieg.
Until I rap on the window, that is, and he drops to the deck in a ninja crouch then scurries into the bushes below before you can say, “big, bad human being”.
We all have a role to play.