Birds Beware


Maybe my youngest son took to heart my love of birds when he started his window-washing business, naming it Birds Beware. Or perhaps it was just a catchy phrase. 

In any event, there are some birds, even in Colorado, that need to beware, not of crashes into mirror-like windows, but of my wrath.  The most notable are starlings.  The males are so black they look like patent leather.  And their eyes are a gleaming, devilish yellow.

When we moved to the old ranch where we lived for 35 years, it looked like the “Little House on the Prairie” but not nearly so romantic.  In a word, or rather, three for emphasis, it was dry, dry, dry.  Nothing grew there.  There’s a name for an area that’s almost a desert.  We moved into a one-room cabin built in 1914 in an “almost desert”.  The views, however, were amazing!  As we were fixing it up – adding a sleeping loft for the kids, carpet, windows, etc., our youngest then was two-year old David.  He’s now married to beautiful Sandra introduced in “What About In-Laws?”  David dubbed the little cabin our “cabin-house” as I mentioned in “An Homage to Feathers”.  That, naturally, stuck.

What our "cabin-house" looked loke when we first moved in.


But with time, work and lots and lots of water (maybe “work” and “water” should be reversed) our little spot blossomed.  Since I started this story with birds in mind, I should mention that birds didn’t really take to the “cabin-house” much.  This was undoubtedly because our lonesome home became the Valley’s dumping place for all the stray cats in Colorado.  Since this blog is in the category of  “The Life in Our Lives”,  I’m sure I’ll get around to sharing multitudes of cat tales.  But for now, I’m sticking with birds.

 I loved birds then, too, but felt I would be doing them a dis-service if I attracted them with feeders only to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for all the cats.  There was also the tiny deterrent of my boys using anything that moved for target practice with slingshots, BB guns, etc.  Somehow the cats tolerated the sport or were smarter than the birds in avoiding being shot at.  Or more likely, there were so many of the somewhat wild felines that we never noticed when one went missing.

But as the area sprouted new homes, and our trees became larger and the yard bigger, more flowers, etc., stray cats appeared less regularly.  With only two boys left at home, and one beloved cat named Peeve (my youngest came up with that since this black beauty was his “pet peeve”.), I felt it was time to encourage birds to make our home – theirs.  So I got the advice from my friend that I mentioned in “Feathers that Delight” and began putting bird-feeders everywhere.  I think the final count was twelve.  I tried to attract all kinds of birds with various types of feeders and foods.  During this time, as my youngest was entering middle school and second-to- youngest, high school, my husband and I were grief stricken by the thought of our child-rearing days reaching a conclusion.  We wanted to spend every last minute of it with our last two boys.  So we began home-schooling them.  We got a curriculum from Clon Lara in Michigan.  It included lots of  space for creative projects.  Both boys made great use of that in various ways.  The one related to my birds was that they each built a pond. 

To digress a moment: the youngest and his five-year old niece (my first grand-daughter) hand dug their little pond, spending an entire summer on the project.  Those two little people worked hand-in-hand diligently until there was a lovely (tiny) pond in our yard.  They even put in a tiny waterfall.  It was just too cute, landscaped naturally with a wooden bench next to it that my third-to-youngest had made in shop class at “real” school (as the older ones called their education).

2000 041

Meanwhile, the older of the two youngest, Jacob, was watching and researching ponds on the computer.  That was a skill the youngest hadn’t quite mastered.  By the next spring Jacob embarked on his pond project.  He cajoled his Dad and I into renting a back-hoe and began tearing up the yard.  This was a bit disconcerting, but we were loathe to stifle his creative spirit.  We wondered at our leniency when he cut the natural gas line leading to our house and almost blew up the entire forty acres including our little family of four.

"I build a pond, he constructs an ocean."  A poem by Caleb on our fridge using magnetic words.

 I mentioned earlier that birds feed in different ways.  Some  like to perch when they eat, some like to eat from a flat surface, some pick their food from the ground, some eat up-side-down!  And of course some, like hummingbirds, eat in mid-air with wings flapping so fast you can’t see them.  They stick their long, thin and hollow beaks into the spout of the feeder (or in nature, the flower) to sip the mixture provided for them.  Accordingly, my feeders were all different, designed to appeal to the various preferences of the little feathered fellows.

That summer I would never be able to relate the number of trips we made to a river property.  A friend gave us access to this spot where we collected thousands of river rocks.  The two boys and I took our pickup down to the Valley floor day after day after day.  I became more buff  than I’ve ever been what with heaving large rocks into the pickup and then unloading them at home.  We lined the rocks over the pond’s plastic bladder until there was none of it showing through.  The final size was about 15′ by 18′.  We landscaped all around it with flowers and bordered those with lava rock, which was plentiful around our acreage.  For the waterfall, we traded pallets of river rock for beautiful, natural lava rock at a local nursery.  The last rock was heaved into place and the last flowers planted on August 18, 2000.  That’s significant, because my third-to-youngest was getting married that evening right by the pond.  Whew!  Finished in the nick of time!

2000 011

Within the next couple seasons, I was enchanted that a huge flock of birds made our spot their home. They’d splash in the ponds, chatter in the trees and swoop from feeder to feeder.  With each summer, their numbers grew.  It began to seem like an infestation rather than a pleasant sanctuary.  I was becoming increasingly concerned that there were no little mountain blue birds, sparrows, wrens, chickadees or other birds native to Colorado visiting my bird-friendly retreat.  My “Birds of Colorado” manual assured me that I’d provided the necessities to attract  many varieties of  feathured creatures.

When my second oldest son and his family moved in with us while their house was under construction, I became alarmed.  The once enchanting birds began to swoop and target my two little grand-daughters!  I needed to research what was the deal with these “bird-turning-to-monsters”.  Turns out these were dreaded flying beasts feared and detested by most dedicated birders!  Starlings!  They were notorious for kicking  friendlier birds out of their nests, protecting their property, even killing other bird’s children!  Or stomping on their eggs!  Horrors of horrors. 

Again my knowledgeable bird-friend came to the rescue.  She said I wouldn’t have to kill any (though my murderous juices were at full strength).  I’d only have to scare them away with a BB gun or slingshot. The beasts would communicate to one another this was unfriendly territory and infest another home.

 This project was appealing to my target-hungry sons.  As well, my city-bred nephew was visiting at the time, and was enthralled to be in the west shooting  things.  He even used my outdoor tiki torches for practice.  He actually hit one which I only discovered later.  As I filled it with kerosene, it kept leaking out the tiny hole.  My boys reluctantly tattled on Evan, but I’m sure only to escape blame themselves.  This activity was good for Evan as it kept him from brawling with his sister.  We never found any bird-bodies to confirm he’d actually killed one.  Maybe he hid them well.

As the nasty creatures abandoned their now unfriendly home, they often left behind their babies.  This confirmed the depravity of the loathsome fowl.  Sadly, my lovely little grand-daughters would gather the little orphans up and try to nurse them to adulthood.  Fortunately they never succeeded.  Far be it for some odious starling to really think my home was his!  I did feel a smithereen of guilt watching my little darling girls trying to undo the results of my wrath. 

Gradually, as the starlings left, desirable little feathered friends began to tentatively venture into my sanctuary.  It was delightful.  Occasionally a starling would poke his beak into the area.  I kept little piles of rocks here and there to ward them off with.  I’d run screaming like a banshee, throwing rocks as I ran.  It had the desired effect, and soon many wonderful, well-behaved flying creatures made their home – mine.

This entry was posted on Friday, March 5th, 2010 at 5:58 pm and is filed under The Life in Our Lives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

13 Responses to “Birds Beware”

  1. Emogene Feoli Says:

    I need some advice for my blog….I like your layout. Can you help me?

  2. Jesse Says:

    Good times trying to shoot the birds. How i spent my one summer in Colorado.

  3. Wendy Says:

    Hey Jesse. It’s nice of you to read my blog! I up-dated Birds Beware with photos so you might want to take another look.

  4. Emmett Speidell Says:

    How often do you write your blogs? I enjoy them a lot 9 7 5

  5. Wendy Says:

    Hi Emmet. I try to write at least a couple times a month.

  6. Darrick Guethle Says:

    I need some advice for my blog….I like your layout. Can you help me? 8 9 3

  7. Wendy Says:

    Darrick, my son pretty much put this site together for me. All I do is write. Sorry I couldn’t help more.

  8. Jesse Says:

    Thanks Wendy…ya Amy and I read it all the time. Love it. Say hi to all. Were going to be coming out soon…

  9. Cialis Says:

    NH2dj7 Excellent article, I will take note. Many thanks for the story!

  10. Alfred Bredernitz Says:

    great post thanks ive bookmarked this for later use

  11. Raymond Maslonka Says:

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  12. Alexander Mishou Says:

    This post is beyond awesome. I am always wondering what to do and what not to do so I will follow some of these tips.

  13. Jeff Says:

    Loved the story. Many memories.