Birds: No Cages Required

When I was growing up, my family was very active and outdoor-oriented. They loved hiking in the mountains, visiting zoos, or trekking through state parks. My mom and grandma in particular, but even my sister, would often comment on birds we’d come across in the wild. I remember on more than one occasion pulling off to the side of the road so they could jump out and get a better gander at whatever large bird they may have spotted. (Usually falcons and hawks, but I do recall a buzzard or two causing a stir, I believe because they first mistook it for a hawk.)

Back then I was like, “Birds? Boooring.” But I’d endure the delays and the oohing and ahhing, knowing we’d be back on our way soon enough.

In the last ten years or so, though, I’ve noticed something disturbing about myself. A change. Where once I found birds dull, now they fascinate me.

I’ve heard that birds make great pets, and have known several people who have had parrots or parakeets, but I think I’d feel bad about keeping one caged in my house. Plus, with Tabby and Mr. Meow, I’d worry for its safety. (With my luck, figuring out how to eat the bird would be the thing that finally brought them together!)

However, I’ve found ways to indulge my newfound bird passion, yet still let them live freely outdoors in the wild. All by using bird seed and feeders.

Okay, to some of you this is going to sound like a no-brainer. In my defense, even though the women in my family loved birds, I do not recall one bird feeder ever gracing our yard. (Maybe because my mom was an avid gardener and her garden drew them in instead?)

I didn’t inherit my mom’s patience for gardening or her green thumb, but evidently the latent bird-appreciation gene has finally kicked in. But instead of planting roses and tomato plants to create a pleasing environment for them, I use bird feeders, bird houses, and bird baths to entice them to come visit.

I don’t know how much the birds appreciate my eclectic tastes in displays (the more unusual or novel the decoration, the more I like it), but they do perch, roost, and feed in them. All kinds of birds, too, from finches and cardinals, to blue jays, doves, and mockingbirds. Even an occasional hummingbird.

I’m still learning names as I go, as well as their songs, but I’m getting better about identifying them. And I’m finding new ways to enjoy them, like going to look for them on bird-watching expeditions instead of waiting for them to come to me. But that’s a blog for another day…