HELEN LANG: Bread crumbs don’t cut it for seeing the birds

If you want the pleasure of seeing songbirds over the winter you’ve got to feed them

Back from another visit with my brother in Cedar — just south of Nanaimo. He has three Fillipino people working for him and they are about the nicest people I’ve had the good fortune to meet.

Now their families, still in the Philippines, are in deep trouble. I’ve called Cedar to see if their relatives are OK and, thankfully, they are all alive. I’m a very long way from being rich but I’m sending each of Herb’s people money to help just a bit and let them know the people of Canada care about them. World Vision is a good place to send money if you want to help. That organization is already there and helping and I know from experience these people are honest and reliable.

Now back to gardening.

One thing I noticed while in Cedar is where there have always been birds on Herb’s large patio, this time there were none. I know why. He is not feeding them and I had a look in the shed where the feed is usually stored and the big container was empty. This drives me crazy!

If you want the pleasure of seeing Towhees, Oregon robins, chickadees, bush tits, sparrows and anyone else that’s hungry at your table, you’ve got to feed them. And bread crumbs don’t really cut it. If you enjoy seeing these dear little creatures, you’ll have to provide lunch.

The bush tits who arrive in small flocks, are fat eaters. My husband, Jim, used to hang up a string of marrow bones on a fairly high branch (so the dog couldn’t get it) and it was delightful to see those tiny creatures, so polite, feeding peacefully in groups on those round bones. Jim hated the feel of the fat on his fingers but enjoyed the birds so much he gritted his teeth and strung those sticky bones on a foot-long, strong string and hung it up on a branch outside a window where we could watch the birds.

The crows used to attempt to eat there too but were so heavy the string would twist and turn until they realized it was a useless endeavour. We used to nail a chunk of suet to the tree trunk for them (the starlings usually got most of that!).

I’m pretty sure I told you that I took the bulbs I bought for the pots on the balcony, up to Herb. Now I hope I’m not too late to find replacements. I particularly want some anemones. Yellow tulips can be replaced with other colours if necessary but I really do want some anemones. I had red ones on the balcony of our home in Prince George and they were so beautiful and so welcome every spring it took my breath away.

I can see them now, like bright beacons in a cold and lonesome climate.

Don’t get me wrong … I loved Prince George!

 

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

 

 

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