Laurel Peltier: The magic of bird feeders in winter

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Winter came suddenly with December: a two-day snow that closed roads and left us home bound. Maybe that’s why I finally filled the bird feeders.

The barren whiteness, the bitter winds and the death of the magnificent 22-pound turkey the week before. Was it guilt or boredom that moved me to the Amherst Farmers’ Supply and drove me back 50 pounds of bird seed heavier to the shed where five feeders hung empty?

I wrestled with the ladder, banged nails into the rafters on our new porch, clipped a carabiner to the top of each feeder, and filled those bird seed boxes to the brim.

The feeders remind me of my grandparents, who could spend hours at the kitchen table looking out over a yard where chickadees chicked and blue jays screeched. Frankly, I never really understood the attraction, which might be why it took 15 years for me to hang them. Plus, who has time to feed birds? I can barely manage to slap together a peanut butter and jelly for my own dinner most nights.

Once hung, those feeders captivated me. They brought a frenzy of tiny feathered folk into my life. Every morning, I’d run into the living room to see which birds had risen with me. I’d wait for the doves in the afternoon, two sweet pairs, and watch for the squirrels to jump from beam to beam, trying to slip down the cords or cling to the platforms instead of scavenging scraps that fell to the porch floor from above.

By mid-December, I’d become so attached that I put a 6-foot Christmas tree on the porch and loaded it with peanut butter and bird seed pine cones. My comings and goings left me feeling like Snow White, surrounded by all of the creatures of the forest, all wishing me well — probably so I could keep the food coming.

No matter. It’s still winter, still cold and sometimes blustery. But the barrenness is gone, replaced by feasting and feathers.

Laurel Peltier