The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Creature Convention Center - A Big Hit with the Birds and Mrs. Ichabod

"You feed them?"

My wife Chris (aka Mrs. Ichabod) was amused by my plans for Creature Convention Center. When the first version tumbled down, I said, "My dreams were too small!" (Notre Dame reference)

I realized the soft ground argued against vertical height, and the birds did not need a skyscraper. Why, we have new building in the area that is prit-near seven storeys high.

I used two sheets of plastic, 60" by 30", separated by concrete blocks from Mrs. Wright's yard. This gives us three levels, many nooks and crannies, and plenty of space on top for food and water. The middle layer is more protected from rain, which really mattered last week. Our extra storm alone gave us 3 more inches of rain and turned the soggy yard into a rice paddy.

I had to re-position version 2 of the CCC, because it was too close to the house to observe from the bedroom window. Now the Jackson Bird Spa and the CCC are linked by a mulched lane, where the first version tumbled down.



The view out the bedroom window is now:

  • A bird feeder for finches and chicadees, a few inches away, on the right.
  • Jackson EZ Bird Swing, just to the left of the feeder, a little above eye level.
  • Hanging platform for food, to the left of the swing.
  • CCC - down below, next to the Butterfly Bush.
  • Jackson Bird Spa - the mulched area just beyond the CCC, between the trees. Ten bird baths.
  • Pounds of suet hang everywhere. Seed everywhere. Plenty of food in the mulch.
The birds were quite wary of the bird swing, for several weeks. I expected that. They adopted the feeding platform and CCC immediately, perhaps because they already felt safe in the general area, well fed and watered.

The platform and swing give birds a high, safe view of the yard. They need the view to watch for danger and to spot critters in the soil. The goldfinch that landed at my feet was working the soil for a long time. That is what gives the birds that interesting look as they turn their heads left and right to scan for food.

The squirrels use the platform, CCC, and window ledge for food. Instead of eating all the food, which will happen in one small feeder made up of sunflower seeds, the squirrels hop around, feed, and let the next group take over for a time. The birds often eat around the squirrels, a short distance away.

The Results Are In
Mrs. Ichabod now realizes there was method in my madness (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2 - for those who went to a WELS school). 

We have constant entertainment to watch through the window and the cheerful sounds of birds (except for the scratchy squeaky grackles). Their noise attract more birds, and they all take turns.

When the sun sets, the animated shadows play on the wall behind my computer. I can watch the birds in silhouette as I pretend to work.

In a big rainstorm, a baby squirrel will sit on the window ledge, oblivious to us. Squirrels are smart alecs - they know the power of window security).  He holds his damp little parasol tail over his head as he eats the sunflower seeds and corn left there. The birds do not like to land on a slant, so that is his alone. The big squirrels avoid the ledge too.

Of course, I did all this for the grandchildren. That is one great advantage of being a grandparent. I can have fun in my second childhood because I get to see the world again through the eyes of a child.

Mrs. Ichabod said, "How can anyone glance at a garden and remain an atheist?"


Luther saw birds as God's professors, because they wake up every morning singing cheerfully, not even knowing where the next meal is coming from. Having nothing to eat, they praise God first.

Very few of them store food. Blue jays store acorns, but they actually create oak forests by "hiding" the acorns that are most promising for germination - better than smart scientists can. Squirrels also aid in the spread of the trees they need and enjoy.



But birds start out each day hungry, listening to their hatchlings chirping for food. Without complaint, the birds fly off to work and return with worms, grubs, and insects for their scrawny babies.

We watched blue jays out of our Bella Vista window, growing from naked and skinny to fluttering their baby wings, to gone. The parents never attacked me when I got near the nest, because I was dropping off piles of sunflower seeds for mom and dad. Instead the parents watched me approach the bush where the family lived, dump the seeds, and depart. I never heard a screech, never felt a dive-bombing and pecking attack.

If all birds sang like me and the grackles, life would be tough in the morning and no lyrics would be written about them. But the Creating Word fashioned them to be examples, teachers, harbingers of joy. We lost a dear friend on Sunday, David Pearson, married to a Moline classmate. I hope the birds comfort and remind her often of the Savior's words.


Matthew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.



Matthew 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?