Bird brained

April 3, 2018

I’m not sure when it happened, yet in the last year or so of feeding birds, or having feeders out for birds, I became a little bit obsessed.  The best feeders, the best food, the most food, the most diversified food, the best access to fresh water…etc.  You get the idea.  Over the top.  The birds loved it and I marveled at how many birds would come to the feeders at one time.  Mostly finches and pine siskins in those types of numbers, yet I felt like a mothering soul taking care of the wee birds.  My arms opened wider and wider to accommodate them all.  I was sure they needed me!  After all, how could they not?  I was an integral part of their survival.  I may not have thought this out loud as I know it isn’t true, yet it sure motivated my behavior.

The first time I saw a finch with the eye conjunctivitis disease a while back, I didn’t know what it was.  I had never seen a sick bird at our feeders.  It was surprising and worrisome.  So, I did some research, and within the research there are varied schools of thought.  Some say, take down your feeders until the sick bird disperses, and others say that they may be getting sick elsewhere and bringing the disease to your feeders, so what good does it do to take them down?  I struggled with the notion of removing all the feeders as how could these birds be okay without my help?  Again, I didn’t really believe this to be true, yet I felt guilty thinking about removing a reliable food source.

So, I diligently cleaned the feeders, and tried my very best to maintain a safe environment for the birds.  So much of this was out of my control, however.  No matter what I did, the needle will not be moved very far, as disease exists in wildlife.  I cannot make it go away.  I can only remove it from my sight.

This past winter, I saw several sick finches.  Sick pine siskins.  I thought if I just stepped up my game and swiped down the feeders at night with alcohol, in addition to cleaning them regularly, it would make it go away and keep the healthy birds safe.   I could adjust the amount of feeders and ‘control’ the way in which they were getting seed.

Tonight, heading into a spring that doesn’t even feel like spring, I took the feeders down for a while.  I spent the day following a few sick birds around with cotton swabs of alcohol, trying to clean up after their feedings.  It’s insane.  I am not helping.  When did this stop being fun?  What happened to my joy with having feeders?  Now it is just a burden and a worry.  I want to know that I am only doing ‘good’, yet I cannot feel this while seeing another sick bird on the deck.  What made me think that I was a necessary component in this scenario?  Who am I?  Just a nutty woman who loves birds, yet has taken forever to see that sometimes less is more.  Sometimes not being in the middle of it is actually better.  Sometimes loving something, like I do these birds, is not a reason to interject my thoughts, my behaviors, my needs into their lives.  Sometimes the best thing one can do for another living thing is to step back.  Step away.

So, for now, I will take bird pictures from afar, and hope that I haven’t done too much damage in having the feeders, and by ultimately taking them away.




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