Monday, June 20, 2005

The Birds

My daughter wants a pet. Before we moved to AZ, we had two cats, a hamster, a gerbil, and a gecko.
Now we have a gecko. Not the same one as before. Geckos don't travel well in winter in the back of a vehicle for 4 days, so we gave the first one to a friend and bought a new one when we got here.

Anyway, I'm tired of pets. I? Would never have a pig, for example. But my son is the keeper of the gecko, and my daughter is petless. So I told her she could have as many outdoor birds as she wanted. She could feed them and give them water. "I will teach them to eat birdseed out of my hand!" she said. Yeah. You do that.

So, we knew the Gambel's Quail like to eat fruit. So Wheezygirl chopped up some pineapple and put it on a plate. She brought it out to our back wall and set it on top. And she waited for them, watching through the glass slider door.

I told her it might take a few days for the birds to find it. But she wanted to watch. After a few hours, I said, "You know, the birds usually don't look for food in the middle of the broiling afternoon. And that fruit...well, it's probably pretty dried up by now. Maybe we should try again in the morning."

Wheezygirl managed to talk her brother into making a bird feeder. She was convinced that birds don't eat off people plates. So Wheezyboy got to work in the garage. He hand-sawed two-by-fours and particle board, and built a shelf that would attach to our wall. He measured twice and cut once, just like grandpa taught him. Once he had the base, he rummaged through my kitchen looking for a birdbath basin. I had just the thing for him--a giant tin cookie platter with raised edges and a picture of a creepy Santa on it. We bent the edges up to form a bowl, and superglued it to the base. Then the boy took a frisbee and nailed it upside down to the corner of the base, so most of it stuck out beyond the edge of it, to seem perch-ier. This was the food dish.

This contraption is the coolest bird feeder ever. It's easy to clean, and most of the bird droppings fall on the other side of the wall. :)

We went to the pet store and bought some black oil sunflower seeds, and a big block of something that the quail like to peck at. Stuck that thing up on the wall too.

Within 24 hours, every bird in Maricopa County had found our home. The sky was dark with wings. We also bought an Arizona bird book, and have identified the following visitors to our feeder: Gambel's Quail, Apert Towhee, White-winged Dove and Mourning Dove, Cactus Wren, Curved-bill Thrasher, Mockingbird, and House Finch. And a variety of Hummingbirds (though they don't feed here, they just fly around). So far the Grackles have stayed at the screaming lady's house two houses down, and we are fine with that. I got a little freaked out yesterday when two turkey vultures began circling overhead. They have wingspans of up to six feet. Serious. One flew over the house and cast a shadow like a low flying airplane.

Ooh, and just a moment ago, I went outside and saw something struggling in the pool. It was a lizard. Crap. We're turning into the desert version of Kimmah.

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