Writer’s Block: Tricky Birds

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

I was browsing through the aisles at HEB late one night last week when something caught my eye as I made my way down the pet food aisle looking for treats for my very pampered cat.

It was HEB’s small collection of bird feeders and bird food. Stacked high up on the shelves was an assortment of feeders made for accommodating various types of birdfeed and artificial nectar. Some were big; some were small. They were made of metal, and plastic, and wood and glass. In cheery shades of red or forest green. Below them sat a selection of bird food. Loose seeds to attract jays, and others to attract buntings. Special formulas to entice the most vibrant of hummingbirds.

Okay, maybe it’s not such a small collection of bird feeders, after all. In any case, they caught my eye.

They caught my eye because the lovely mesquite tree that sits just beyond my patio has been known to play host to flocks of red-winged black birds, and sparrows of various type, and doves and grackles, and all manner of other avian friends. And though I’ve never seen one alight on the boughs of the mesquite, I’ve heard many a kiskadee make its characteristic KISS-ka-DEE! call from somewhere nearby.

With the fall migration in full swing, and local birders regularly announcing the sightings of amazing birds throughout the Rio Grande Valley, I thought I’d like to try enticing some of those birds to a place where I could view them from the comfort of my patio rocking chair.

But, I don’t know much about bird feeders. I didn’t know what to get, or even if the birds would show. So, I opted for one of the cheaper feeders, and chucked a sack of seed into my basket and set upon my way before HEB locked the doors.

The next day, I eagerly filled the feeder with seed and hung it from one of the lower boughs. However, it was too late in the day for any birds to find it. The next day found me peering out the window several times to see if any birds were using it. Alas, I was disappointed every time. No birds. And the bird seed level remained the same. I feared the birds wouldn’t come.

On the third day, as I was preparing to leave, I caught a glimpse of movement. Sure enough, a bird flashed by, too quick to see. The feeder rocked in its wake. The birds had found the feeder! And by the end of the day, the birdseed was three-quarters gone.

Awaking the next morning, I again checked the feeder. Nothing. Then I checked a few more times, hoping to catch a glimpse of the birds that had been doing the feeding the previous day, but I never did. The small amount of seed was still there, untouched. Finally, I resigned myself to getting ready for the day and hopped in the shower.

Fifteen minutes later, I looked out the window again. This time, all the birdseed was gone! Perhaps it wasn’t birds that found my bird feeder, but magicians. I chuckled at their sense of timing and resolved myself to catch sight of them… eventually.

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