Thursday, February 5, 2009

My Little Chickadee

For the past few winters, I have put two bird feeders off the deck outside my office. It's a tradition I've inherited from my father, a man who spends more on birdseed in a given month than he does on clothes in a decade. He's a good man in that way, even if he's not fashionable.

My feeders are a pretty popular spot with the locals:

The regulars include a flock of mourning doves and one of chickadees; one Pileated Woodpecker (known as Alan) that perches on the exact same rung on the right feeder every time; another woodpecker (Charlie) that's fond of Nat Nast bowling shirts and hookers; and a male cardinal (below) and his mate:

I know the cardinals are an item because I caught them nesting in one of my shrubs this past spring. For the record, they don't practice birth control. Or restraint. Go Big Red!

Then, of course, there's these idiots:

Ever use a product that claims to repel squirrels? Better yet, ever use one that worked? I think the last "repellent" I dowsed the feeder and seed with was actually a mislabeled MSG for the ravenous Eastern Gray tree rodent. It also caught the fancy of our wonder mutt, Murphy.

I'll spare you the photo of dog-poop shaped birdseed. But, for the record, the squirrels ate that crap, too.

It's pleasant to occasionally turn to my left, away from the online records of my dwindling IRA and the regular e-mail correspondence from my two biggest spammers (Jay Markoff, president of, and Groton Benton, seller of contact information for America's gynecologists), and unwind with the antics of my feathered friends and even those furry bastards.

Except for about once a month when I'm alarmed by a heart-deadening thump upon my sliding glass doors.

Upon hearing this, I'll get up, look out and -- sure enough -- slumped upon my deck like a pouting Citibank executive whose just been told bailout funds won't pay for his luxury retreat in Tahoe, will be a bird that flew smack into my sliding glass door.

Sometimes the poor things die on impact. Sometimes they die of fright after Murphy gives them a French kiss and presents them to me like they were a free bouquet from (hurry -- the contest ends Friday). Once in a while, they're just stunned and need a few minutes to get reoriented. That's when I get out the box:

This is Zeppo, my first rescue of the winter. He was lying on his side, eyes wide open, breast pumping hard for air. I scooped him up, righted him and held the dog at bay so he could fix his horizontal hold.

After about 10 minutes, he was still breathing, just not moving. I started combing my Rolodex for the number of my vet.

Unable to find my vet's number, which is good because I've paid the man enough to nip, tuck and de-giardia Murphy in the last two years anyway, I went out and shook Zeppo's box a bit to try to jumpstart him.

Sure enough, he hopped out, right onto my threshold. Then he sputtered a little further along:

Here's your closeup, Zeppo buddy:

I stepped outside and Zeppo revved up and ZOOM, straight through the railings and into the woods.

Maybe I missed my calling in the veterinary sciences? Anyway, hurray for Zeppo and good lu-...

Wait, what's this? Right on my cedar planks.

Frickin' little turd!


Vote for me at or I send Alan and Charlie over to do a number on your shingles.


  1. You're supposed to put decorative decals on those sliding doors to keep the birds from flying into them. And (at least around here) to keep the drunks from walking into them.

  2. I suggest you tape a photo of The Headless Rabbit to those bird feeders so each time the squirrels come around, they take a look at that, shoot a look at Murphy and then high tail it (or squirrel tail it, as it were) out of there.

    Of coures, the birds will probably freak the hell out, but you do what you have to do.

  3. I don't like birds. They creep me out and poop on things.

    Had an uncle like that once. I don't wanna talk about it.

  4. Put a fake owl on the railing of the deck?? What do I know , I don't 'do' nature and have dirty windows to keep the birds at bay.

  5. lol love the two & a half men reference.
    always love reading your writings! very entertaining!

    the word of the day is turd!

  6. Fly, Zeppo, fly! Be free!

    Are you getting the foreboding turkey vultures at your place? Six or eight of them have taken to my neighborhood. One day last weekend as I pulled onto High Ridge, I saw at least four dozen of them circling a nearby valley. I take it they are wintering here but can't help wondering why?

    I'm torn between visions of Warner Bros cartoons and The Far Side every time I see one of these ginormous birds.

  7. We have very territorial Hummingbirds. That's right, I said Hummingbirds. Those little buggers will chase off anything that comes near their feeder. They could probably take care of your squirrel problem.

  8. You make me giggle.

    And my family has a long, deep-rooted history with squirrels.. here's a post about my mom's ongoing battle..

  9. Love having feeders outside our kitchen window. Always good for some amusement.

    Is Zeppo a Marx Bros reference? Good man if so.

    Read in the latest mailing from the Mass Audubon Society that up to 900 MILLION birds bite it each year because they fly into windows. Unreal.

  10. We used to have a window feeder. Ouch... You don't want those little fellahs any closer to the windows than they need to be!

    The last time we needed seed, I sent my husband to get it. (mistake?) He came back with a 50 gallon bag of "wild bird food". Dutifully, I filled the feeders with it. Unfortunately, it was mislabeled... the bag should have read "Squirrel party chow"... The rats are everywhere!

    And as for that last photo... don't worry. The fuzzy-tailed rats will probably eat that too. They call it "cedar-planked" on the squirrel menu.

    ;) Have a great weekend!

    - Julia at Midwest Moms

  11. For a good time with squirrels, mix ground Cayenne red pepper with the bird seed. Birds won't mind and those bushy-tailed varmints will provide a humorous show as they desperately search for the nearest Dos Equis, with or without a lime. (Please note, this does not seem to deter bears.....but that's another story.)

  12. I gave up feeding the birds, and now I just feed the squirrels. Problem is, they have come to expect it and are quite demanding little buggars. They yell at me alot and shake their fists at me.

  13. Hi. New to your blog, and I stopped in for one reason and one reason only. And it wasn't because Vagina guy linked you. It was because of the name of your blog. Because the scene in Almost Famous between Philip Seymour Hoffman and the kid who plays William Miller when Hoffman says, "I'm always home. I'm uncool!" is among my favorite ever.

    And now that you save birds in your spare time, I'm here to stay.

  14. I'm not worried about Alan and Charlie. It's that last little dude that scares me.

  15. PG - Zeppo is most definitely a Marx Brothers ref. Now go, and never darken my towels again!

    Diane - I just finished watching Monday night's ep on TiVo when I wrote this, though Alan the Woodpecker does visit here in all his OCD glory.

    Candy - You just made my day. DON'T DO DRUGS!

  16. I love it! I think you may have missed your calling, mister!

  17. At my mom's house, they have to take down the bird feeders at night lest the bears get them.....

  18. I think it's time we all go back to having scarecrows! I'm going to start making one right now.

  19. i think I'm gonna be sick.........

  20. You make me laugh out loud!

    Off topic - I did email you about a month ago about things to do in Conneticut/Mass. Remember, my hubby is going to be working up there for a month? Any who, you are good about responding so the fact that I have gotten no response makes me think it got lost in cyberspace. And I use webmail so I cannot simply click on your link to email you. Maybe I goofed up the email address.... would you verify your address? You can send response to

  21. Okay, I can't explain why it's hilarious that you have a wild bird named Alan.

    But it is.

    Also, Zeppo is known for doing stuff like that on people's decks. Groucho, on the other hand, has some class.

    Awesome post, as always.

    :^) Anna

  22. .22 caliber "short" rounds are a Fantastic repellent.

    And, good Eatin'. the squirrels. not the .22 rounds.

  23. We have the same birdfeeders as you have in picture one. Bird visits often result in 1) bird seed shells on the ground that the dogs eat and ultimately pass in seed laden steaming heaps on the snow, and 2) birds flying into the picture window. I never get there fast enough to see what happens after the collision, but never found any birds on the ground, so I'm assuming they give the thumbs-up "I'm ok" before shaking their heads and flying away.

  24. GREAT writing - love the pictures. I have always been known in the neighborhood as the bird lady, so people (mostly kids) bring me not just birds but an assortment of injured wildlife. I have a special affinity toward birds. This is a great blog - I signed up to follow you. I do a blog on change, motivation, inspiration, parenting, humor and whatever - I'm new to blogging and esp. new to technology. WOW a whole world out there (or in here?) or wherever - feeling small but thinking big.
    Best to you! suZen (

  25. We gave up on feeding the birds a few years ago because we couldn't figure out how to feed the birds and not the damn squirrels too.

  26. You are not right.


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