Here's the Scoop: April 28, 2010

Seedy neighborhood
On occasion, I have updated fascinated readers with The Bird Situation at our house. Since many of you have written to me seeking the latest news, I felt obligated to include another installment.
I suppose, if I were a cool tech-head, I could merely go on Twitter and “Tweet” about these bird-related events — it seems that would be very appropriate indeed. But I can’t get paid for that type of communication, so the latest news will appear here.
Quick background: We moved into a tree-surrounded “country home,” vs. a suburban Arkville home, several years ago. The biggest change, aside from not being able to get a pizza delivered (wait we couldn’t do that before either) was that we didn’t get any birds at our feeder. There were a few birds around, but they didn’t seem interested in the all-you-can eat buffet we offered.
After two birdless winters, we purchased a new feeder for this season. To use an unpleasant analogy as a fan of the Baltimore baseball team, watching for activity at the feeder was like waiting for the Orioles to win another World Series. A strikeout (until next year!).
Making matters worse was the fact that I had actually splurged on the feeder. I purchased a good one, with plenty of perches and good capacity. I even placed a little sign on the feeder that read: “The best food around. Dine surrounded by never-to-be-developed NY City lands.” Still nothing.
As warmer days rolled around, I didn’t want to take the feeder down, even though it was getting less action than the shy, bespectacled girl in a teenage romance movie.

Like magic
But on the first day of spring, something magical occurred. A single bird made its way to the feeder. “Hello my little chicadee!” I shouted in my best W.C. Fields imitation.
At first I figured it was a lone sensitive bird that could see the attractiveness of the feeder which other birds overlooked (see movie reference above). However, it didn’t take long for dozens of birds — finches, nuthatches, a few eagles — to get wind of this smorgasbord — albeit with black oil sunflower seeds being the only dining option.
This was really exciting — in a we’ve got a pretty boring life sort of way. Anyhow, we’d get up in the morning and be thrilled to watch the feeding frenzy. Sure, there was a minor concern about bears also wanting to enjoy this feast. But, we reasoned, they probably wouldn’t be active for, well, probably a few more weeks. Or three days. Whichever came first.
Even though the birdfeeder had been equipped with airbags and antilock brakes, it was no match for hitting a bear. Or vice-versa. When I got up on the fourth morning of our newfound bird feeder popularity, the news of the feeder wasn’t the only thing that had spread — the feeder itself was in pieces all over the lawn.

Food’s gone
The birds, of course, weren’t sure what to make of this situation. They came in and picked up random seeds from the ground. They weren’t happy, though. In a few days, they were gone.
My wife and I were both disappointed. She researched the problem a bit in a wildlife publication and said that maybe we could suspend a bird feeder from a clothesline, much like food is safeguarded from wildlife by campers.
I was a bit nervous about this, but agreed to give it a try. The only condition I wanted to see was a reasonably-priced bird feeder — just in case the bear had read the same book.
Fast-forward: Feeder is installed 10 feet above the ground. Unless we attracted a Polar bear, we were probably safe from the swatting approach.
The feeder itself, being of the inexpensive variety, is a semi-hideous purplish color. I was skeptical. For some reason, I thought our birds had a certain class and wouldn’t want to eat from such a location. But eat they do. A lot. So far, the bear has not bothered with the new feeder. I’m sure he could knock this one to pieces, too, if he were motivated.
But I won’t feel as badly about losing this feeder, because, as the seed-munching birds keep reminding me, it was: “Cheep, cheep.”