HELEN LANG: To feed or not to feed birds

At this time of year many birds are headed south, where the winters are nice and warm.

At this time of year many birds are headed south, where the winters are nice and warm.

Yesterday, a flock of five large birds (I’m pretty sure they were geese of some sort — not Canada geese because I know what they look like). These were big birds, sort of a tan colour and they were chatting away to one another. They were probably encouraging the younger ones that Mexico isn’t actually that far away and they’d be stopping in some grain fields in Oregon to rest and re-fuel.

And please stop asking, “Are we there yet?”

It was lovely to see and hear them as they streamed by in ragged formation. Both Jim (my late husband) and I loved the birds and had a number of well-stocked feeders both front and back of the house where we could watch them as they ate.

We always had strings of marrow bones for the Bushtits, who arrived in small flocks to enjoy a meal, often several times a day. They are such dear little birds and so polite, making room for latecomers to eat as well.

I’d like to encourage those of you who have a deciduous tree or two, to hang a feeder of bird seed, or marrow bones, fairly soon so that they know where to come for dinner. If you go away on holiday this winter, please either get a friend to keep the feeders filled.

Or, please, don’t begin to feed at all. Birds begin to depend on you for a food supply, which, if stopped suddenly, leaves them vulnerable to starvation — and no-one wants that.

 

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.