hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


November 14, 2013

A bird feeder that serves another purpose


Next thing I saw was the chipmunk hoisting itself to the top of my feeder and shimmying down. They must have drill sessions by the way they’ve mastered this maneuver.

“You’re wasting your time,” I snickered under my breath. “Just watch the outside cover slide down and block your entrance. Toooo bad.”

Only it didn’t work that way. The animal managed to poke its head into the opening and enjoyed a meal, making a glutton of itself. Finally, I went out and shooed it away like I wouldn’t do to a bird.

I have yet to see a bird go after an acorn. So why would a chipmunk or squirrel go after their food? Every other year, it rains acorns on my property at the lake. And this was the year. I’d see the squirrels and chipmunks scurrying about, collecting whatever they could gather for a winter’s supply.

“Have all you want,” I’d rejoice. “Less I’ll have to rake and dispose in the woods.”

All that was left were shell casings. The nuts had been removed.

I’ve gotten pretty good at identifying my birds over time. There used to be a time when I couldn’t tell a grosbeak from a tanager. And a Baltimore oriole isn’t just the name of a baseball team but a fantastic songster, flaming orange with a black head.

I recall doing a story once on a woman who nursed a robin back to health. The fledgling had apparently fallen from its nest when she found her on the ground. That bird stayed with her for a decade.

Whenever she tried releasing the robin, it would fly back to its caretaker. They had grown to be inseparable.

One of the best books I ever read was one written in 1940 by Paul Gallico titled “The Snow Goose.” Without divulging more than I should, it’s about a deformed man living in England who befriends a large bird during the advent of World War II. It’s 60 pages of soaring bliss.

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