When we let the gang-o'-five outside (okay, 4 of the 5; Cootie stays put, poor thing), a backyard feeder seemed a poor choice; "Look everyone, a birdie buffet; I'll take mine rare!!". So last year we were birdless. This Winter we realized that the girls are a comfort-loving bunch; they may jump the fence in Summer just to aggravate and worry us, but in the Winter they want their fleece-lined beds in a sunbathed room. Ms. Mot in particular has to be pried out of her bed! So we used some planter hooks to hang three suet cages and three feeders right outside the livingroom windows. While no turkeys have appeared, we have three species of woodpeckers, and assorted chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, juncos, doves, sparrows--and finally!--a pair of cardinals. Have you ever watched a male cardinal feeding the female cardinal? It's a sweet, sweet sight. The downside of this particular location is that every time we open the front door they all fly off in a tizzy...the doves get particularly hysterical; they're highstrung little buggers! I stand there aggravated; "Hey, who do you think is feeding you? Ya think it's manna miraculously appearing from the heavens?" which of course does nothing to ease the situation. I wander outside and it's an instant bird ghost town, Thistle Seed Gulch. You can almost see the tumbleweeds rolling down the driveway. If there were tumbleweeds in the foothills of the Catskills, anyway.
Well, yesterday, under cloudy skies that taunted us that a mere 5 hours south they were counting the snow in feet, not inches, I refilled the feeders. The morning was hushed, no neighbors' dogs barking or roosters crowing, a breeze rustling dead, dry leaves. I heard an odd sound, a rapid beat and then a rustle....turned around and there was a chickadee landing on the feeder not two feet away. Barely breathing, I watched and listened....a downy woodpecker swooped down to a suet basket, and suddenly the tree above me was a bustling foodcourt, a dozen birds chattering about where they should have brunch. For a few heartbeats I was privy to--even a part of--this otherwise closed society, a social club and family that shuns outsiders. How silly is it that I felt so accepted?