Certainly, I have lots of favorites — snowshoeing, pond hockey, ice fishing, snowball fights with the kids, even bounding around with the dog and a ball in a fresh coating of the white stuff in the backyard. But one of winter’s other joys, one that doesn’t often come immediately to mind, is a simple pleasure.
Sometimes, it’s nice to sit in front of a big picture window with a cup of hot coffee and watch the birds come and go to the feeder in the front yard. (Side note: In Maine, we call it the “dooryard,” which, for some reason, hasn’t caught on in the rest of the world. But it should, because all the cool kids are saying it.)
I’m not going to lie: Part of me — OK, a big part of me — envies the little creatures for being so brave in the face of winter’s cold, harsh elements. I have to bulk up with approximately 612 pounds of wool, fleece and synthetic shells to even begin to face the cold, so much so that I end up looking like Ralphie’s little brother in “A Christmas Story.” But those birds, well, for them it’s just another day in the northern New England paradise.
I’ve tried to give serious thought to what it is about birds and bird feeders that I like so much. The truth is, I’m not sure I can put it into words.
Maybe it was that I grew up with a bird feeder outside the window of my parents’ house. Maybe it’s that birds — finches, nuthatches, chickadees, woodpeckers — all seem to have their own personality. Heck, maybe its the twisted
sense of humor that I have which allows me to laugh at the dog getting all worked up that these birds would even so much as DARE to invade her space for a meal.
Or maybe it’s simply that the birds show up, each and every day without fail, and offer some small reminder that just because the weather is turning colder or another snowstorm is en route, the world is not going to end.
I know full well that the few pounds of sunflower seed that I put out isn’t going to make or break the birds’ survival — as a (sometimes) rational adult (questionable), I understand that the birds are more than capable of finding alternate food sources. But what I also know is that a bird feeder that does the right thing, one which provides food and protection from predators, is good for all of us.
After all, the birds are one of my favorite parts of winter.
Travis Barrett works in Online Marketing at Byer of Maine. He lives in Maine with his wife, Sara, children, Cooper and Samantha, and dog, Bella. There is no truth to the rumor that Bella runs his life.