The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

When Birds Feed in a Storm



I was running out of corn ears, so I stopped at a hardware store and bought some perma-corn, which is a composite I used before. It lasts longer and the squirrels enjoy it. A big bag of cracked corn tempted me, and I yielded. That was a good choice.

I replaced the corn on the squirrel feeder - they eat an ear each day. I put the new compost in the pile and spread some newspapers out to soak up the rain. We are getting days of rain, which is a good time to expand the Jackson Mulch project.

I wondered how the cracked corn would do, so I scattered plenty on a relatively dry section of newspapers. The cold rain followed a hint of snow this morning, and the drizzle continued all day.

Soon I had a line up of birds on the ground, enjoying cracked corn. I saw my first male cardinal, back at the squirrel feeder. Cardinals are shy, male cardinals even more than the females.. Close up I had mourning doves, a junco, sparrows, and some others. I am hoping for blue jays, which always picked up corn from the squirrel feeder in Bella Vista.



Three front yards on our block, including ours, had flocks of starlings feeding in the grass but ignoring my suet (beef kidney fat). How about that! Doubtless the overcast, drizzly warm weather was good for insect  and worm life, and they went for their favorite food. Later, a downy woodpecker cheeped on the maple tree as it enjoyed the suet by itself.

The birds continued to feed on the cracked corn and are still there late in the afternoon. Some people put window screens on blocks, so they can elevate the seed and keep it somewhat dry on days like this. Newspapers work almost as well, since they soak rain away from the surface.

The corn brought out a new crew of birds, and a large number at once. I have been scattering black oil sunflower seeds every day, but never saw more than a few doves on the ground. Of course, birds will be quite cautious at first and not feed until they feel safe.

As various gardening sites point out, establishing feeding habits in the yard will benefit the garden later. But it is also true that a Creation garden will provide far more food for birds than an ordinary yard or one where they trust insecticide.

Mr. Gardening sprayed for mosquitoes three times, and it was less effective each time. They came right back. He learned his lesson, but he had to pay tuition.