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Joys of Feeding the Birds

One of the joys of winter is watching the birds at our bird feeders. When was the last time you sat back, relaxed, and just watched the birds at the feeder?

I was thinking about such things the other morning while sipping on some good coffee, doing a little reading, and watching the bird feeders. Common visitors at our feeders include chickadees, blue jays, white-breasted nuthatches, goldfinches, siskins, common redpolls, and both downy and hairy woodpeckers. And of course, it is always a special treat when some of the more unusual visitors show up, such as evening grosbeaks, pine grosbeaks, or crossbills,

Although it is nice to see a variety of species, the real treat is bird “watching,” not bird counting. Birds are just plain fun to watch. And chickadees exemplify that. Those little feather balls are not wired like other birds. They are wired to a 220! They seem to be constantly flitting around, buzzing in, grabbing a seed, flying off to a nearby perch to break open the hull and extract the seed from within. Then, after perhaps a hop or two around some branches they are back for more. The other birds, of course, have their unique characteristics as well. And through all the visitations of the various species, squabbles are surprisingly rare.

Occasionally I will muse over the ecological significance of the many species of birds we see at our feeders. In the case of chickadees, I have come to the conclusion that their ecological significance really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the world is a much richer place because of chickadees. Chickadees make us smile. If you are ever down and out, watch some chickadees. I guarantee you will feel better.

But of course, it all good viewing! So, make a point of keeping a couple bird feeders in the yard, and keep them well stocked. Then sit back and enjoy! And if you are still looking for some Christmas presents to buy (from kids to grandparents), consider giving a bird feeder. They will provide the recipient with some great entertainment and perhaps even provide the spark for an increased interest and appreciation of nature. And of course, the birds will thank you too!

Chuck Lura has a broad knowledge of “Natural North Dakota” and loves sharing that knowledge with others. Since 2005 he has written a weekly column, “Naturalist at Large,” for North Dakota’s newest newspaper, the Lake Metigoshe Mirror. His columns also appear under “The Naturalist” in several other weekly newspapers across North Dakota.
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