I love birds. I don’t keep any in the house, because I also like cleanliness, quiet and the ability to travel. The more pets you have, the harder all those things become. But birds are also carriers of pests, they’re filthy and they die easily. So, the best solution to the problem of how to keep birds without the hassle of keeping birds is to have a ton of bird feeders on the front porch.
I had run out of my usual bird feed – that mixture of millet, that thing that looks like millet but is a little larger and a little darker (and the birds hate it – they won’t touch it in one of the feeders) and black sunflower seeds that I usually stock the feeders with. It attracts orioles, juncos, jays, chickadees, sparrows and all the other birds we have around here by the sackful.
This time, I decided to do something different. I bought a suet cake to put into the holder we already had. Normally, if the feeders have stood idle for a while before I fill them again, it can take the birds a day or two to discover that the cafeteria has opened up again. The feeders weren’t empty, though. The birds, especially the orioles (which are my favorites because, in addition to being lovely, they have a very pleasing song). In fact, as my husband and I sat out enjoying the afternoon, the birds kept landing on the porch railing, then immediately retreating to the trees that surround the house and screeching at us to get out of their restaurant, couldn’t we see it was lunchtime?
By evening, the suet cake had attracted two battling bird herds (I know that’s not the collective term for birds, but get your own blog if you want to be fussy about it). Steller’s Jays on the one side, orioles on the other. Sadly, the orioles have no advantages whatsoever. There aren’t quite as many of them, they’re smaller, quieter, and more polite. The jays come in like Anthony Michael Hall in everything he’s done since 1990, squawking and throwing their weight around and making pests of themselves. I’m sitting in my office facing the window that looks out on the feeders, and the suet holder hasn’t stopped swinging. No sooner does one bird leave than another one jumps on. What is it about kidney fat that drives birds into a raging, furious feeding frenzy?