Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Bird Brains

This Spring, I replaced my six-perch birdfeeder, in which hornets had grown a nest, with a new-fangled, 12-perch feeder. It’s easier to fill and hang. The old feeder I had hung out my kitchen window, where the remains of a kiddie swing dangle, making the perfect hanging spot.

Away from the door, the spot was ideal for the birds, but not so ideal for my patio furniture. When I bought the new feeder, I hung it from a former window planter hanger outside the dining room window. I don’t have to clamber up on a stool to hang it, grasping for the swing chain like the heroine in Perils of Pauline. Once inside, I can observe my feathered constituents from the comfort of my dining room table without alarming them.

My older brother, the frugal one, thinks feeding wild birds is a waste of money, when there’s a whole woodland filled with bugs, insects, and other birdfare on which they can feast. They’re perfectly capable of finding their own meals. Billy thinks feeding them is like taking coals to Newcastle and upsets the balance of nature. What bird is going to hunt for worms when the feeder is within flying distance? He calls it “bird welfare”.

This is an expensive proposition, too. Birdfeed isn’t “cheep” and the bags weigh a ton. Since hanging the new feeder in mid-May, I estimate they’ve consumed about 20 to 30 pounds of seed a week. At $5 per bag times 7 weeks, plus a bag or two more, that’s about $45 worth of birdseed and 140 pounds of seed. I can fill it up in the morning, and on a hungry day, by the time I get home, it’s empty.

I pride myself on the number and diversity of birds my feeder attracts: finches (the official bird of New Jersey), sparrows, wrens, nuthatches, chickadees, orioles, cardinals, robins (although they’re groundfeeders), mourning doves, pigeons, starlings, grackles, and crows. Plus squirrels who manage to grab hold of the feeder and shake the seed to the ground and the cute, but ever-pesky chipmunk who not only feeds on the seeds but has destroyed my pansy beds.

There are days when the feeder is seriously in need of air traffic control. Meanwhile, I’m providing endless hours of entertainment for my two housebound cats, who sit on the windowsill, hidden by the dark screen and the curtains, stalking their “prey.”

I can’t decide whether the birds think the human is a fool for storing all that precious seed outdoors in a container that’s not only riddled with holes but contains convenient perches for them to steal the entire horde, or if they think it’s a trap.

If they think the latter, they’re correct; it is a trap. I relish spying on them, luring them to my patio with a free lunch and then observing their every movement, their behavior at will behind my curtains or the blinds on my door. As soon as they discover my presence they flee, fearing for their freedom.

What a pity that birds with brains about the size of a pea have more sense than humans who gorge themselves at the government’s expense. Obama keeps filling his bird feeder with Obamacare seed and TARP suet and Financial Reform feed and the birdbrains keep flocking to it, oblivious to the trap into which they’re flying.

Why go to all the trouble of gathering our own meals of bugs and flies, never certain that the supply will sustain us, when the government trough is overflowing? Why not get our share? Why work so hard when the free lunch is hanging right there for the taking?

Never mind that there’s a dark cat with sullen yellow eyes stalking us behind the window, just waiting for the chance to spring. You can hardly see him for the dark screen anyway and cats are renowned for the ability to sit patiently until the time comes to pounce.

My cats’ ears are particularly attuned to the flapping of wings. Commotion, bickering, fighting, the flapping of distressed wings immediately gains their attention. Distress is the signal that it’s dinnertime. The whining of the poor, the hungry, the oppressed in the editorial pages of the newspapers signal to socialists that it’s their time to spring their trap.

Though the world is filled with food, they hang out their socialist birdfeeder, filling it at our expense, inviting the hungry of the world to come feast for nothing. The birds needn’t worry about the cost. They get so fat that they can’t fly away anymore and soon come to depend upon the government bird feeder, where political fat cats can watch them with lean, hungry eyes, counting the votes that will be placed on their dinner table.

Meanwhile, the bugs overrunneth the earth, and seeing this peril, the environmentalists come up with green answers, stamping out all the jobs that could have sustained the hungry. It’s all the fault of the humans, they complain. But instead of allowing nature to come up with her own solutions, they come up with human answers that only perpetuate the problem, for of course, the bureaucrats are dependent upon the dependent birdbrains for their votes.

So, the birds get fatter. The government fat cats get fatter. The birdseed manufacturers get fatter. Everyone gets fatter, until no one can fly away.

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