Birds of a Feather
Birds have an amazing communication system. One day, while my Mama was living with us, we attended a potluck lunch to celebrate the end of a project. The luncheon was held in the dining area of a lovely home. As an added bonus, we had a lovely view of a beautifully landscaped backyard.
As we munched and chatted, I noticed a multitude of tiny yellow birds. They were crowded around what appeared to be a tube sock full of seeds attached by a hook to ornate, wrought iron poles. I was told that the birds were goldfinches and they were eating a black thistle seed called Nyjer. The ‘sock’ was made of a netted fabric that allowed the birds to pull out thistle with their small, pointed bills. It immediately occurred to us that Mama would love watching this.
We hung a couple of finch socks in front of the window. Though I’m not sure how birds pass the word along, it didn’t take too long before our finch socks were sporting a dozen or so little yellow birds. They were fun to watch as they flitted about, jostling for position on the sock according to a pecking order known only to them. They were always in motion. It was fascinating to watch them come and go. The birds provided a constant show for Mama as she watched them regularly with rapt fascination.
Birds in North Carolina
Our recent move to the east coast has given us new birds to entice to our feeders. Most notably, the famous North Carolina Cardinals. With a quick bit of research, we learned these beautiful red birds love black sunflower seeds. It was great to find a wild birdseed mix abundant in those seeds. Learning about suet added additional joy. Suet is a hard block of a seed mixture that sets inside a rectangle frame which the birds hang onto while feasting at the suet.
We found branches that were strong enough to hold the feeders, but too thin for squirrels to climb on. Since the squirrels here are quite clever about getting into bird feeders, we were careful to select just the right branches. We hung our new feeders, sat back and waited.
The bird communication system must have activated again. It was not long before a variety of ‘southern winged visitors’ began to show up. The birds as they eagerly began to munch on the seeds. We began seeing cardinals, sparrows, doves, titmice, nuthatches, and wrens along with a variety of woodpeckers as well as the occasional hawk.
My husband and I found it a very peaceable thing to watch the birds (as well as squirrels). They would endlessly flit, fly and scamper around in search of their favorite munchies. As we watched them, I understood Mama’s fascination with the flitting little flyers. Over time we began learning the habits and songs as well as species of the winged visitors who come to our little backyard feeders.
As it turns out, according to ‘ScienceDaily’, birdwatching is very therapeutic. However, birds may not be your thing; perhaps fish are more enjoyable or possibly petting cats. The important thing is to find something soothing that will enable you to take at least one ‘mental health’ break each day to refresh and recharge.
Has your world been touched by dementia? Or, are you a caregiver? My recent book, “Finishing Well: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and tips about doing life with my Mama. May it encourage and inspire you to find the joy in your own, unique journey. Find our group on Facebook