Posted by: nightmistwalker | January 18, 2015

Feeding the Birds

For three days, I was Temple-bound (similar to being housebound). Between the wind chill and the snow advisories, I simply felt safer staying in. However, three days inside is two days too many. I had a choice: I could go stir crazy or I could feed the birds. The “feeding the birds” option won. Now for the creative adventure: What was there in the Temple of Gaia that I could feed them? Purchased birdseed has been a staple winter item at the Temple for years. We usually stock two different kinds. One is an amalgam of various seeds for as wide a variety of birds as possible. The other is sunflower seed, the favorite of this blog’s signature birds, chickadees. I suppose we could have confined our bird feeding menu to those. But, where is the fun in that? Since the visit from the downy woodpecker, I have been wondering what, besides bugs, they eat. After a bit of research, I had my answer. Downy woodpeckers feed on nuts and tree sap, besides the bugs. The tree sap is sweet, and some of the research suggested that they might enjoy some fruits, especially the ones they have to work for. With that in mind, I hit the kitchen cabinets (supervised by Shadow) and discovered a can of chunky pineapple and some leftover pecans. I fed Shadow and the other feline priestesses their dinner, reserved the bulk of the pineapple for my stir fry dinner, and put about 7 pieces of pineapple in various locations around the feeding area. I mixed the nuts in with the seeds and scattered them for the birds, also. That night we had 5 inches of snow. The next morning, everything was covered. That did not stop the birds from showing up and chowing down. A large blue jay parked himself on the flat stone of the outdoor altar and dug a circular cavity the size of his body, eating seeds as he went. Flocks of chickadees, nuthatches, finches and sparrows filled the snow covered taxus bushes, tweeting and twittering as they flitted to the porch for a mouthful of food and back again. The cardinals showed up, eating sunflower seeds and adding their tweets to the chorus. Two doves arrived, walking around on the porch, dining quietly amidst the music of the birds. And there, at last, I saw the downy woodpecker, standing on the top step, digging diligently in the snow. He really did work for several minutes, occasionally lifting his beak to the sky and chewing something that I, at first, could not see. I had to go to the front door, literally right next to him, to see his dinner. It was a tiny golden thread of pineapple! He had found a treat and was enjoying his cuisine with as much joy as any of his companions. Suddenly, his body stiffened and he began digging quickly in the snow. When he finally raised his head, he held a piece of nut in his beak. He looked around at all the other birds, who simply ignored him. Then he flew to the crab apple tree and looked around some more. Was he looking for someone who might try to steal it from him? Was he searching for an opportunity to brag about his prize? He walked up the trunk of the tree, looking all around, seemingly surprised at his good fortune. Then he finally flew off, the piece of pecan still held in his beak. I hope he had a nice snack on it when darkness fell and the temperature dropped again. In the last few days, the woodpecker has been back once again. It has warmed up a bit. When the snow melts, the birds return to their natural habitat, as they should. But when the weather report predicts snow, I make sure to put more food out for the birds. They have been keeping an eye on the feeding stations, for I invariably hear a call and then an answering chorus of birds, telling each other that there is food to be had at the Temple of Gaia. May you and all of your companions be blessed with food, warmth, and safety throughout these winter months.

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