Thursday, February 3, 2011

And what will poor Robin do then, poor thing?

As the weather continues on the downward spiral, feeding the birds becomes serious business for without our help, many may not survive the current temperature plunge. True bird aficionados feed year round, but I feel it is best to insist they forage until the weather no longer permits or food is no longer easily obtainable.

We all remember the haunting nursery rhyme:
“The North wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will poor Robin do then,
Poor thing?”

The illustration accompanying this little ditty often displays a pitiful Robin lying on its back in deep snow with fixed eyes, twig-like claws, a beak barely opened… clearly dying from either starvation or hypothermia! Notwithstanding the implied cruelty of presenting such images to small children, the visualization of this “Poor Thing” easily instills enough guilt to encourage one to purchase a high quality bag of wild bird feed immediately!

Most birds like the commercial mixtures but if you want to splurge purchase additional sunflower seeds and thistle. Many beautiful songbirds spend the winter indulging in entertaining antics and now that the trees are bare, it is possible to see and hear them far better. Once you begin feeding you will discover the reason so many people find great enjoyment in bird-watching, for every bird has personality traits characteristic to their individual species.

With the onset of cabin fever this week, the birds have taken on substantial significance, providing a most welcome respite on seemingly endless boring days. The Blue Jays are excitable, boisterous, rather the bullies and always traveling in a gang. The Cardinals are polite, laid back and lacking in aggression. All species of the Woodpecker family demand and receive respect; their beaks are daunting and presence can clear the feeder immediately. The darling finches squabble and tumble about while the Black Capped Chickadee and timid Titmouse dart for sunflower seeds. The wonderfully enthusiastic Sparrows are mentioned in the Bible as one of God’s favorites.

Birds eat in regular intervals during the day much as we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. For this reason the feeder is sometimes chaotically busy with all species feeding together in a feathered fluff of noisy competition while other times the filled feeder stands alone. The word spreads quickly among the bird community and bird feeders will find themselves at the height of popularity this time of year.

Lovely books which identify bird species are available at all of the public libraries and it is exciting to identify old favorites and new friends who visit your feeder. And since we have many more weeks of winter, plan to enjoy the bird show… from the warmth of your easy chair!

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