DO I NEED TO BRING THE BIRD FEEDER IN?

by Jnana Hodson

Maybe I’ve been too involved watching the surreal political scene that’s unfolding in America, but that hasn’t precluded us from enjoying the usual sequence of developments in the garden — things I’ve blogged about in previous years. We’ve enjoyed waves of (wild) dandelions followed by crops of asparagus, lettuce, and spinach, and now the sugar snap peas and raspberries. Maybe I’ve been too busy trying to stay ahead of the weeds, repairing some of our raised beds, even tackling a small patio space between the kitchen and driveway to report on any of it, but in general things are looking good and tasting even better.

One thing that always amazes us is the popularity of the bird feeder in summer. You’d think with all of the natural, wild food sources, the birds would ignore the feeder. Instead, they become voracious, going through as much of my grain and seed in a couple of days as they do in nearly a month of deep cold and snow. Yes, there are those babies to feed, but this still has us shaking our heads in wonderment. OK, we do live in a city, and anything we can do to enhance the avian population has its pluses. Still, we’d like them to remain independent and turn to our supply when things are tough rather than bountiful.

Feeders, I should note, fuel their own band of human supporters — along with topics of conversations. Squirrels are only one of the menaces.

Each spring, when I was editing the newspaper, I’d have to chuckle when the state Fish and Game Department issued its annual bring-your-feeders-in alert. We had enough friends who lived in the country to tell us — and sometimes show us the damage — of what could happen when the bears come out of hibernation and start roaming. The bruins will rip a feeder to shreds, sometimes a half-mile from the scene of the crime. (Well, our dentist had photos of the hairy ones at work — five days in a row of bears visiting the feeders on his deck right outside the kitchen overlooking the lake.) Living in town, though, I’ve never considered us at risk.

But now? A neighbor saw a bear yesterday just four or five blocks from us as it crossed a busy street just north of downtown. I know it’s a rare though not unknown phenomenon, but it’s still news. For now, I’m shaking my head and hoping the neighborhood dogs are on guard. Their barking should do the trick, if need be. So I’m told.

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