Thursday, August 22, 2013
Last fall we had our trees trimmed. The workers were taking off almost all the branches lower than fifteen feet on the trees in our front yard and the small copse next to our house. But there’s one branch that gave me pause. The particular branch is about six feet off the ground, has very few sub-branches or leaves and runs exactly parallel to the ground. It looks very odd but I use it on Halloween to hang various signs, ghosts, traps, hot oil vats, and the like. If they cut it off, my Halloween decorations would be compromised. So, figuring I could always cut the branch off myself, I told the workers to let it be.
I’m so glad I did.
We used to have a bird feeder on our backyard deck. I liked having the birds around but it was not a very convenient location for refilling and the birds tended to crap on our stuff (imagine that). Not long after they trimmed the trees last fall, I realized that the saved branch would serve as an incredible base for a variety of bird feeders and bird houses. So, over the next few months I gradually installed three bird houses, a suet basket, a large seed feeder (with anti-squirrel cone), a nut feeder, and a compressed corn log for the squirrels. This spring I added a bird bath.
The results over the past few months have been a lot of fun. At all times of the day we’ve had a host of regular bird visitors, including orioles, cardinals, blue jays, finches, and doves, as well as many squirrels and, most adorably, a bunch of rabbits, including babies, who eat the seeds that get knocked onto the ground. I have to refill everything every couple of days but it’s very relaxing and satisfying and we have all really enjoyed the constant animal show.
Until we recently returned from Indiana.
We were gone nine days and although I filled everything right before we left, I knew the free smorgasbord would be depleted by the end of the second day. What I didn’t know was that most of the diners would apparently flee the area the minute the food ran out. When we returned, one of the first things I did was to refill everything. To my surprise, the reaction was almost non-existent. While some of the squirrels came back within a couple of days, the bird-related food was eaten very gradually, and we have yet to see a large number of birds at one time as we used to. The doves are back, but that’s all I can say for sure. And the rabbits have not yet returned.
I’m sure they will some day, as it is, after all, a free lunch. And if not the specific animals, a new group will appear. But it’s been a little sad.