Thursday, January 29, 2009

One of the joys of living in New England is that you get to feed the birds in the winter. It really makes you feel good to see them happily fluttering around the feeders. The more feeders you put out, the more birds you get. It’s as if they regulate their number.

We’re inundated right now with gold finches and pine siskins. I mean inundated. My mother and I have counted at least two hundred at one time. Obviously, it’s hard to get an accurate count because they’re always on the move. However, she and I are both firm in our opinion that it’s got to be in that region. We fill up the feeders but we also scatter seed on the ground and that’s where the crowd gathers.

One of the things I’ve noticed about the birds is that all goes swimmingly as long as there’s enough food for everyone. The trouble begins if I’ve been lazy and resisted donning coat, gloves, scarf and boots for the trek outside through snow and ice with the heavy seed bags.

A bickering begins – gentle at first and then raucous evolving into unmitigated quarreling. Larger birds start scaring off smaller birds who fly off to a safe perch in the crab trees waiting for an opportunity to return. They gather in conspiring groups while the bullies fill their bellies. Peace returns when I’ve braved the outdoors once more.

It got me wondering if we could solve a few of the world’s problems that way. Make sure everybody had a full belly and a place to perch.