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I sometimes feel like a news broadcaster issuing Breaking News bulletins. Several times a day, I give Gill the latest on the goings-on at my bird feeders. If she’s here, I yell upstairs: “The stupid baby cardinal almost fell off the railing! The mother was trying to feed it and it lost balance…perhaps the small red squirrel was looking at him threateningly .” Then, Gill yells back, “Can’t hear you, Ma! I’m still deaf, remember?” In some ways, it’s easier when she’s in the U.K. I simply email her, knowing she’ll get excited at my news and email right back.

This has been a particularly active season at my feeders. And since I can’t bear to listen to any more of Trump’s rantings, I’ve cut back my t.v. viewing. I need something productive to fill that void. And believe me, the birds and their antics are ever so much more uplifting and interesting than Trump  being Trump.

And speaking of bullies, I have been battling my large contingent of squirrels. A couple of winters ago, I felt sorry for the poor things, standing out in the cold, the snow collecting on them as they went about the job of finding food. They were pretty cute–especially the ones with the soft white bellies, brown fur, and impressive thick furry tails. Then things took a turn. They ate too much of my birdseed. They were eating me AND the birds out of house and home.They had stomach rolls of fat and were so obese they could barely jump from branch to branch in the tree without precipitating a coronary. I cut back on the seed I was putting in the bird feeders FOR THE BIRDS. It helped a bit but they were still bullying the birds and stealing most of the seed.

I finally, with heavy heart, stopped putting seed in my open wooden feeder. Oh, the squirrels still stopped by to check, but their supply line had been severely cut. It’s much like the U.S. slapping sections on Iran or North Korea.The squirrels still try to rattle my cage every once in a while, but they realize I’m not going to let them back on ‘the gravy train’.

This summer I put up a third ‘squirrel proof feeder’ and filled it with only sunflower seeds, hoping to attract a better clientele. Enough of this McDonald’s crowd…I wanted the posh, upscale French cafe clientele to bring up the tone. It worked! I have a tree full of tiny chickadees, a pair of nuthatches, an entire family of cardinals and the odd visit from a woodpecker. Mrs. Beeton (my pink parakeet) enjoys being out on the deck during the good weather and she has taken to attracting, as she thinks of them, HER outside birds. She was delighted when the chickadee landed on the side of her cage today, seemingly wanting to visit. He flitted around her for a while and I half expected her to invite him in for a spot of tea (she seems so primly British somehow. I could imagine her setting up a delightful spread with tiny sandwiches and some Earl Grey.)

The best thing this season has been the addition of the family of cardinals. Normally we host the male and female pair. In the last week, however, they have proudly appeared with their latest batch of offspring. Gill and I call these late-in-season babies the ‘stupid babies’ since they look so helpless and not ready or capable of coping with the rapidly approaching winter season. If they can barely stand on the deck railing without falling off, how in God’s name will they fly south or survive the crippling cold here? I worry about them.

Usually the pair only produce one late-season baby. But this time there are three! The oldest is a male whose red color is finally showing in its glory. The other two, his female sisters, are obviously younger, more klutzy, and barely showing red coloring. I hear them several times throughout the day, screaming at their parents to feed them. They don’t seem capable of figuring out the feeder themselves.They remind me of college freshmen– confused as hell the first week on campus, but quick learners who will learn all the tricks of college life– including how to overindulge at parties. I just hope they figure things out before the first snow flies!

I emailed Gill three times with bird news yesterday:”The nuthatch landed at the bottom of the purple hanging flowers — right at my head! He was mere inches away!” Then later: “The Poppa cardinal was feeding the stupid girl baby on the deck near me!” And finally, “The hummingbird flew right past me when I was reading a book!”

I’m thinking I should invest in some sort of a crawler, like the one that CNN has at the bottom of their screen with breaking news tidbits. Then again, perhaps Gill has more pressing matters (such as her job and editing her soon-to-be-published book or even buying provisions (weird food) for my upcoming visit. Although I know she’d be delighted with the bird antics, I might also piss her off with my every-hour-on-the-hour news flashes. I’d best not do that…she’s the one retrieving me from the airport in London.

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