published Friday, November 27th, 2009

Roberts: Decorate your yard with birds

Audio clip

Down Home: Listen to Dalton Roberts’s podcast on how he was moved to write a tribute song to the Cherokees. 11/27/09

Some people decorate their yards with flowers. I decorate mine with birds.

I didn't realize how much difference it would make in my mood until i hung two goldfinch feeders from the eave of my roof so they hang just inches from my 4- by 6-foot double thermal-insulated bird-watching window. When I sit down at my computer and see all the gorgeous goldfinch shining in the morning sun, it immediately starts making alpha brain waves. Those are the happy kind.

If you don't have a big bird-watching window, go ahead and knock a hole in a wall and put one in. When I bought my current home and the one before, that was my top priority. It was worth every penny it cost.

By all means, buy the tube feeders locally at Wild Birds Unlimited or online from Dunncraft or Audubon Workshop that require the finch to hang upside down when they dine. Otherwise you will just have house finch outside your window, and they are so numerous you will have to mortgage your home to feed them. And they are not very pretty. They look more like sparrows. Goldfinch can hang upside down, and house finch cannot.

To decorate with red, buy a feeder that cardinals can hang onto but doves cannot comfortably access, and keep safflower in it. It's their favorite food. At one time a bird house manufacturer made a special cardinal feeder, and a squirrel destroyed mine. I have been unable to find another one, but I have a small four-sided feeder that works well. Just use common sense and ask: Will this feeder work for a bird the size of a cardinal but not be comfortable for doves?

I love doves and will sometimes buy cracked corn and put it 20 feet away from my main bird-feeding area so the doves can dine. Cardinals also like cracked corn and will sometimes join the doves in dining.

To decorate with blue, buy a special bluebird bird-feeding house at Wild Bird Unlimited that has two entry holes. Put some mealworms or bluebird mix inside it. Bluebirds are one of the few birds that will enter and dine inside.

Bluejays will come regularly if you put out some peanuts in the shell, but be aware that crows will come, too, in case you wish to decorate with black.

My favorite black bird is the red-winged blackbird. They are the only blackbird that loves sunflower seed.

The goldfinch that decorate my window inspired me to write a poem I titled "The Golden Wings of May":

Raising my head and opening my eyes after being lost in the Silence this peaceful May day, I saw two shimmering goldfinch just inches away on a feeder under my eave. The afternoon sun dazzled the yellows to life, making the wings look like spun-gold things. Winter's muted moss green, iridescent in spring light, was not to be outdone in this duel in the sun.

As the feeder slowly turned in the merry winds of May, now and then our eyes would meet in a grateful kind of way. "Thanks for the seeds," I would hear them say, and I thanked them for their company all day.

When you decorate with birds, you may often be moved to poetry by the beauty you behold.

E-mail Dalton Roberts at DownhomeP@aol.com.

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azbrown said...

Mr. Roberts, as I read this, I'm sitting next to one of my bird windows upstairs. If I may add this - don't forget to add a source of fresh water for all the birds and a humming bird feeder in late summer. I love watching the tiny hummers breeze through town.

November 27, 2009 at 4:12 p.m.
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