Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Three Little Birds

Our house is square like a doughnut.

That doesn't sound right, but there is a hole in the center of our house. It's a courtyard. In this courtyard there is a crepe myrtle tree and I've noticed some finches sitting in the tree lately and looking around as though they were expecting something.

I like to watch the birds. Sitting on the sofa and watching them alight and look around is soothing to a father of four's nerves. I would even like to attract more and, with this goal, I went to Lowe's the other day and bought a couple of bird feeders and some finch food. I installed these feeders and waited.

And waited.

Eventually the birds showed up despite the new, odd ornaments hanging in the tree, and then they would just as quickly fly away. There is nothing less soothing to the nerves than a bird flying in and flying away, and flying in and flying away, and flying in . . .

Is it the food? I wondered. Were these wild birds so picky that the 2 lb. bag of seed wasn't to their liking and they couldn't be bothered to eat it? Because if that's it then they can starve for all I care. I've got a house full of kids who routinely turn their nose up at well-cooked meals placed on a table, not hanging from a tree.

It's cold out. I thought these birds might appreciate a meal that was easy to get at, free of any predators or dangers.

The predators. Of course. They play Wii, they watch television, they run from room to room to ask questions and tag each other. They aren't predators in the sense that they would ever kill and eat these birds, nothing so productive, so fraught with initiative. Making their own peanut butter and jelly sandwich is so much exertion for them that they'll often choose hunger as an alternative.

But there are large sliding glass doors on three sides of the doughnut hole and as these kids flit past one, then the other, then another, then back again, they must scare the hell out of those poor birds. The cheap food I bought certainly isn't worth all that stress and worry. It's much better to risk life and limb out scavenging for food among the neighborhood cats.

Maybe I'll make the kids start eating out in the courtyard. Hang their pizza and meatloaf from that crepe myrtle and every time they reach for a bite we'll jump out of the doors and scare them. Perhaps seeing these kids nervously trying to have dinner outside will both help them appreciate the food they're given indoors and soothe an old dad's nerves.