Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tough Love

We took down our bird feeders. We weren't going to. We had planned to ride out the salmonella outbreak by keeping the feeders scrupulously clean. We were washing them in 10:1 water-bleach baths, and making sure that the ground under the feeders was raked clean every morning. We agreed that if we saw one more sick bird, after our ministrations, we would take the feeders down for the summer. That's when a very sick male Goldfinch showed up. The feeders came down.

I said to Roger, it's like tough love. It hurts to eliminate a reliable and good food source for these birds, but it's done with good intentions and to save their lives. Roger said, "Tough love? Don't parents usually do that when the kids have done something wrong or behaved badly." I said, "Yes. The birds are are behaving badly, they're dying. Not their fault, but still, I want to shout at them, 'Knock it off, or the food goes.'" Well that was that.
We still have the hummingbird feeders up, and these wild little half-bird half-demon creatures are merciless with each other. We're pretty sure we have three different species duking it out on the 4:1 water sugar solution we provide. When I look at these birds, I suspect they must have some kind of insect in their genetic makeup.

There are several other species of birds in our yard that don't rely on us for food, and still come by to sing, eat insects or fruit, and build nests. Tree and violet-green swallows, robins, cedar waxwings, crows, swainson's thrush haven't abandoned us. Well, really, neither have the finches, grosbeaks, chickadees, towhees, or blackbirds. They're still coming by and wondering what the heck has happened. I tell them we're saving their lives. Yeah, they give us the same look a teenager might give after we've just taken away the car, and told them it's for their own good.

Top photo is an adorable juvenile robin.

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