SOUR GRAPES: Front yard fun

By Jim Magdefrau

I’ve read somewhere that a bird feeder is not really for the birds, it’s for us. The birds can take care of themselves. Well, I needed front yard entertainment, so I hung a feeder on a hook in the front yard and let the stress-relieving entertainment begin.

Squirrel

At first, I was shunned. New in town. Then one by one, a finch would stop, then another, then a gold colored bird, and then Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal stopped by. I courteously gave a neighborly greeting.

Some of the seeds fell from the feeder, so that attracted the neighborhood rabbit. I called him (or her) Harvey. I thought it even said, “Good evening, Mr. Dowd.” In the words of Elwood P. Dowd, Harvey has always been my favorite name — for a rabbit. My poor Jimmy Stewart impersonations didn’t seem to faze Harvey.

One of the neighborhood squirrels cautiously approached the feeder, looked around, looked at me, and picked up some of the fallen seed. Then looked around again and tried to climb to the feeder. Only Rocky the Flying Squirrel can do that. Each time the squirrel fell it bounced right back up and looked at me, as if to say, “I meant to do that.”

The birds, rabbit and squirrel also didn’t seem to mind the Miles Davis on my stereo, though I’m sure they were confused by his fusion/funk era phase.

Keeping eye on the neighborhood

I was listening to the music and animals one night when a new sound came to the neighborhood. A high, screeching sound. I tracked down where the sound was coming from. After research and online help from neighbors, it was determined to be a Cooper’s Hawk. A chickenhawk. Like the one that pestered Foghorn Leghorn and the dog in the Looney Tune cartoons. It turns out they like to raid my friends who use feeders. There is a pair of them that control Van Horne’s northwest side.

After a loud screech, the squirrel over my shoulder, sitting in a neighboring tree, gave me a long lecture on how he felt about this new addition to the neighborhood. It is not something he is in favor of. I explained to him that I was able to scare away the neighborhood bobcat years ago. I don’t know how to scare away hawks, other than the techniques learned in Warner Brothers cartoons.

There seems to be a balance and all are getting along. I think Mr. Dowd had the right idea when he said, “In this world, you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant. Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.”

Here’s to being pleasant.

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