Friday, July 17, 2009

CHICKADEE ISSUES

I have chickadee issues.
That’s right…problems with chickadees. Little gray-and-white birds with black caps that call out their name incessantly in case you need reminding, hang upside-down from branches while they look you in the eye, and eat your sunflower seeds from sunup ‘til sundown with the jaunty confidence that as soon as they’ve polished off the current 50-pound bag of free eats, you’ll happily dash away to the feed store and purchase another for their continued dining pleasure.
It doesn’t help that they’ve speculated correctly and have you pegged to rights. Or that you both know it.
Neither is it something a riverbank blogger likes to admit to his readership—not when he’s spent all these posts trying to convince them of his vast and consummate outdoor skills, his mystical oneness with nature, and the fact he possesses a disposition so wise and gentle and forgiving that he’s the one and only Protestant on St. Francis of Assisi’s speed dial, the guy the old monk regularly defers to for a quick consultation on wildlife matters.
Nevertheless…I have chickadee issues.
My vexation with these cheery little grub-munchers is where they’ve lately decided to do their eating…which happens to be while perched upon a certain small dead limb of my box elder tree. Yes, the limb is near the feeder—I’d estimate perhaps three yards as the chickadee flies, and quite handy to the wire basket holding the snacks. The problem is, this convenient limb is located almost directly above my deckside rocker. The place where I like to sit, have a snack of my own, and watch the river roll along while various feathered residents eat, sing, and have a merry old time in the nearby bushes and trees.
Now, the chickadees bring their chosen seed to this convenient limb above and just to the left of my chair, they peck the seed open and extract the meat, and the hulls of the seed fall onto the deck. Pitter patter, pitter patter, pitter patter. Messy, really messy. But that’s not the worst—the worst, and I’ll try and be delicate here, is that chickadees aren’t house broken, or tree broken. So they sit comfortably a few feet above my head, eat like gangbusters, throw their empties every which way and poop…and poop…and poop.
What goes in comes out, a pound’s worth of seeds daily or more, and most of it comes out to fall— gravity seldom taking a holiday—right by where I sit. Not directly on my rocker, but mighty, mighty close.
It didn’t used to be this way. The chickadees and I had an understanding. I would buy the seeds, put them in the basket feeder, hang the feeder where they had a nice big box elder tree with thousands of potential perching limbs; they'd eat and throw their leftover seed hulls wherever, and poop—anywhere except smack over my deck.
Thus it has heretofore been, until a couple of weeks ago…and thus it must become once more.
I’m getting tired of sweeping and hosing off the deck. I’m not relocating my rocking chair. And I don’t particularly want to saw off the suddenly-convenient limb.
So I’m issuing fair warning to all offending chickadees…cease and desist forthwith, or I will comb the Internet for chickadee recipes. And don’t bank on help from on high, either. Should St. Francis try and intervene on your behalf, I’ll see his number on caller I.D. and refuse to answer.
Sit somewhere else or suffer the consequences!

37 comments:

Gail said...

Hi Grizz-

I love, love love your words.......... and you and I both know you wont do anything to those chickadees 'cept keep on feeding them. I know you said you wont move your rocker - that might be worth a reconsider. :-)

The very fact that you can write a hilarious post such as this re-enforces your amazing oneness with nature and ALL it's creatures even the 'ever-so-closely-pooping-chicadees'!! :-)

Love to you
Gail
peace......

Bonnie, Original Heart Studio said...

Oh, come on . . . I'm sure they figure you will happily clean up their droppings for the pleaure of their company and the opportunity of a great shot. Aren't all chicks like that? Sweet little, chick-a-dee-dee-dees. Hmmmm - seems you are only enraptured with the red-haired, coiffed, rather distant flirty ones and not the every-day, run-of-the-mill chicks.

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

Ok, this was my second giggle of the day.

Because of the mosquito problem here on the lake I live on, i don't sit out in my Adirondack chairs much but they too have been splatter painted by the birds feeding...I am trying to decide which to relocate, the chairs or the feeders.

Love the post today!

Jenn Jilks said...

You are so funny! You have two choices: stop feeding them, or sit elsewhere! You cannot beat nature...

We have had to stop feeding our birds because of our bear problem.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I heard that Chickadees are tasty on a cracker with a little cheese...

;)

Robin said...

Just a question out of curiosity, from a new reader.

Why don't you want to cut off a dead limb?

(...and I'll take this time to tell you just how much I love coming to your blog....)

Thank you.

Wanda said...

Can Chickadees read???...if they can and still don't heed your warning...well,then what...I've heard of bird's nest soup...but a recipe for Chickadee Fricassee may be hard to find...you will just have to wing it...or buy a really big umbrella...I had to move a planter of herbs because of their same annoying habit.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

A-B-S-O-L-U-T-E-L-Y NOT! The rocker stays! Why, I'd be the talk of the riverbank if I caved in to a bunch of loose-boweled renegade chickadees!

Besides, the rocker sits where it does because it can face the river, and the little table in front of my window where I set my coffee is on my right…and you can't possibly be expecting me to become a left-handed coffee drinker…can you?

And to be fair, they aren't HITTING my rocker with their, er, deposits—just missing it by three or four inches. So far. Now maybe that's just bad aim on their part, or maybe not. But they've had plenty of practice so I believe they are purposely shooting just shy of the target; maybe for a chickadee, this is like horseshoes, and close does count.

Or maybe I'll be serving chickadee canapés at my next riverside party.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bonnie…

Madam, you read me wrong. This is neither about class (being rather run-of-the-mill myself) or flirtatious ability. I don't just roll over for any femme fatale in scarlet feathers. In fact, I like chickadees. Where would winter be without the jaunty chickadee to keep me company when I'm splitting wood or shoveling the hill up to the road?

I will, and have, clean up their mess to a point…and that point is now receding in my rearview mirror. Friends don't poop on other friends' porches.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Teri…

Hey, I've heard of second fiddle…but second giggle?

I say relocate the mosquitoes! Put 'em in the belly of a bat—or let a coven of bats put 'em there!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jenn…

Who told you you can't beat nature? My father used to tell me it is man's nature to work and sweat, to be responsible. I've beaten that silly little bit of nature for decades. They said growing up was natural. Nope, wrong again.

I gotten my dog to quit eating breath mints—an act she foreswore to me was in her canine nature. And I will talk these chickadees out of their dinning perch.

Maybe.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Lynne…

I will keep that suggestion in mind, though I'm thinking a bowl of 'em, deep-fried and a bit salty, might prove a decent movie snack.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Robin…

NOT cutting the limb is where the incorrigible part comes in—the Celtic gene for unwavering obstinacy in the face of logic and common sense.

I stand like a rock amid the flow, a bastion of bulllheadedness. Such is the zest of life!

(And, thank you.)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Wanda…

"Chickadee Fricassee," now I love that! And the part about "I'll just have to wing it!" HA!

I knew you'd have some positive suggestions. And they say we Buckeyes are just worthless nuts…

Jain said...

Ha, silly human, you've already lost! Just move the ^&*# chair.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jain…

Nahhhhh! Not gonna move the chair. No way, no how; ain't happ'nin'. We're talking itty-bitty birds here. CHICKADEES! If they were buzzards, I'd reconsider. But they're birds the size of a bing cherry, 'cept with wings and feathers and such. You think I'm gonna let a flying fruit bully me around?

I haven't been called a pigheaded fool for nothin'.

Jayne said...

It's a test of your love, don't cha know? Trust me, you don't want to fail the test. The first time I decided to hose off my porch at the base of the columns where the barn swallows had been roosting at night (who are also most certainly not house broken), they never came back. Harumph!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

Love the chickadees…don't love their seed hulls and droppings. Especially the droppings which are simply too close.

And trust me, sweeping, hosing, and the occasional mild imprecation have discouraged them not in the least. Maybe I'm pointing the hose in the wrong direction.

Gail said...

Hi there and happy Saturday-

Odd dialogues to say the least. I enjoyed the humor and bantering back and forth and also I felt it could go array easily. Huh.

Anyway - drop by my blog when you have a sec - there are some photos and such.

have a wonderful weekend

love to you
Gail
peace.....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Bantering-R-Us. :-)

I can publish or not publish a comment, of course—though I'm probably the most apt to go awry.

I'll have a look at your photos.

Take care.

Gail said...

Hi again-

I understand. And I know you can publish or not - unsure why you made that point.

and I think the bird on my blog IS the one I wanted you and Wanda to see - although it's red helmet is not visible or it is a Winter dove - I have no clue. eesh. :-)

Peace and love
Gail

Gail said...

Hi again-

thanks for the correct spelling of that word "awry" - I was way off. And I like how you just re-used it in your comment without 'correcting' me. You are a real 'gentlemen'. :-)

love Gail
peace......

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Hey, please don't get piqued at my comment on your comment. I simply meant that I'm aware how all this talk and joking about chickadee droppings and flirty redbirds could easily regress to places I have absolutely no intention of going. Don't want to, and won't. Period. That's not who I am, want to be, or will become—ever.

Unfortunately perhaps, I'm just not programed to be too serious for too long. Yet I'm always cognizant of the fact that the one most apt to get carried away with such jesting is me. So I do try and restrain my bantering. Somewhat.

Regarding your spelling—I would never correct anyone else's spelling. God knows, I'm appalled at my own abysmal spelling, and even more appalled at my regular lack of proofreading and editing—which, given what I do for a living, is inexcusable.

In all honesty, I did not take notice you'd misspelled "awry." I just read it for the word intended and replied accordingly, quoting back from memory rather than as a subtle correction. If I had noticed, I would never have quoted it back to you.

Willo said...

What is not to love about a Chickadee! The mosquitoes and West Nile Virus have taken out our Omaha, Nebraska Chickadees. You will never know how much you loved them until they are gone. I have seen four or five in the past two years and sorely miss them.
Trim the tree.
Willo

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Willo…

I do love the chickadees, honest. What mostly gets me is why, after three years of being fed at the same place, a handful of renegade chickadees have abruptly decided to relocated their favorite feeding perch.

And yes (sigh) I'll probably have capitulate (another louder sigh)and saw off the limb…eventually. But for right now, I want those offending chickadees—and they know who they are—to feel a bit anxious. After all, I feel anxious when I'm sitting in my rocker sipping an iced tea.

KGMom said...

Heavens, Scribe--you have stirred up a bird storm worthy of Alfred Hitchcock.
And, I sense a theme here--first the buzzards stopped roosting (many posts back), now the chickadees insist on roosting where you do not want them to.
Watch out, my friend, lest a terrible bird fate awaits you.
I am for sawing off the dead branch--after all, it will send the birds a somber message, and it will eventually fall anyway, so you are taking nothing away from nature.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

It isn't that bad—I hope.

I still have my buzzards, though with the heavy leaf cover of this cool and rainy summer, they're impossible to see except when they come sailing in each evening, or unless they sit in the tops of the sycamores rather than against the massive, white-splotched trunks. Maybe in the post you refer to I'd said something about their moving up or down the island, which they did last year, or it might have been the piece done in conjunction with their favorite "sunning" tree being cut down, and I was wondering where they'd now go to stretch their wings and warm up before setting off for the day.

And the chickadees aren't roosting above my rocker—they're sitting there during the day and eating; the spatters are intermixed with dozens of sunflower seed hulls they've discarded after extracting the bit of seed-meat. The photo at the head of the post shows the little culprit on his limb practically in the act.

But I know what you're saying. And I suspect it's time to move on to more pressing or interesting matters, or at least give the chickadees a break from the limelight. Don't want them staging a rally of some sort and stirring up the nuthatches or—especially—the squirrels.

You're doubtless right about my best course of action being to saw off the limb—though the mess on my deck is not the limb's fault. Alas, sometimes sacrifices must be made…

Grace said...

This was a great post, very funny! Chickadees are probably my favorite little bird, but then again, they're not playing target games anywhere near where I may wish to sit.

KGMom said...

The mess on your deck may not be the branch's fault, but if the local gendarmes were to investigate, at the least the branch would be an accessory to the crime.

Yes, it was the post about the buzzards' favorite roosting tree being taken down--so you are not to blame.

BTW--the introductory paragraphs to the chickadee piece is fine writing. While humorous, it is worthy of the best of American humorist writing in the elegance of prose. Prose is your strong suit, I suspect--though I will be happy to do some tutoring on poetic form, if you continue in that genre.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Grace…

I delight in chickadees, too—in spite of this grumbling post. They are fine companions on a winter's morning, when the ground is white and the air cold and clean; you're never alone when the chickadees are around, hanging upside-down off the tips of the hemlock branches.

And throughout the year, I love having them around. Which is why I try and keep them faithfully supplied with seed.

BTW, I visited your blog and have to say, those two loaves of oatmeal bread look delicious. And I'm kind of intrigued with your compost bin—though I'm not sure it would be big enough for all my household; between melons and squash, coffee grounds, corn cobs, and such, I seem to produce a lot of organic waste.

Anyway, glad you enjoyed the post. You're welcome here on the riverbank any time.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

I suppose I could rationalize lopping off the too-convenient branch by saying it contributes to the ongoing delinquency of the chickadees. Blame temptation. (But, You Honor…I wouldn't have stolen that brand new RAV4 if KGMom hadn't parked it there by the curb!)

Prose is indeed my strong suit; my poetry, or attempts thereof, can use all the help it can get. (Via emails, if you prefer.)

giggles said...

Hummmm..you once told me that squirrels were smarter than us humans.... Perhaps chickadees too?

Can you say UMBRELLA?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

Did I say that? Yeah, I probably did…and I meant it, too, because it's right. I used to hunt squirrels a lot, and they regularly outsmarted me.

Never hunted chickadees (UNTIL NOW, IN CASE YOU GUYS ARE EAVESDROPPING!) but I have little doubt they're also smarter than people. In fact, given some of the decisions humans regularly make, I think hickory nuts and sand dollars my ne smarter than people.

Anyway…yes, I can say "umbrella." I can also say, and quite loudly: GET YOUR FEATHERED BEHINDS OFF THAT LIMB!

giggles said...

yeah well...good luck with that!!

;-)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

What? You don't think they listened and are now trembling upon their featherless little feet?

Okay…probably not.

Kelly said...

Hahaha.....you made me laugh!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Kelly…

That's right…laugh at my misfortune while gallivanting around the VOM fields listening to Henslow's sparrows. (Great post, BTW.)

I'm shocked you've failed to take me seriously! You're just as bad as my chickadees…

:-)