Each winter I try to help our feathered friends by keeping the bird feeders full. Unlike a neighbor down the street, I stop filling the feeders once spring arrives so the birds can forage on their own. While it’s fun to see the birds flocking around her feeders year-round, I don’t think it’s a good thing to interrupt the natural cycles of forage and spread that the birds do each year.

It’s been great fun watching the birds this winter, made all the more frequent by the mildness we’ve experienced here in Northwest Ohio. Yet, despite snow and cold, the birds still hit the feeders regularly. I’m no birdwatcher in the sense of being able to tell you what I’m looking at, but it doesn’t take one to marvel at the competitiveness and at times, meanness, I’ve seen from these feathered creatures. Sometimes one bird will viciously chase another away despite plenty of room on the feeder. And there’s a group of smaller birds that frantically hop between a feeder hole and nearby branch, leaving me wondering how they’re getting anything to eat.

And then there’s the basement dwellers, those birds content to avoid the competitive action on the feeders and peck their way to contentedness on the ground. They get plenty to eat because I’ve learned birds are inherently messy and picky at the feeders. Watching them closely, they knock out more seed than they’re eating, much to the delight of the basement birds and the odd squirrel that wanders over to forage as well.

They are difficult to photograph, since the least bit of movement or shadow shifting in the window scatters them instantly, except for the doves who just continue to peck and sort on the ground ignoring the big monster staring at them through the window. Considering how fast all of them move and how frequently, it shouldn’t surprise me that I’m refilling the feeders every three days or so.

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