The breakfast contingent. Feathered freeloaders. Baggers with beaks. Whatever you call them, I consider them welcome dependents. Part of my riverbank family. Hungry habitués I willingly feed in exchange for their company.
I take their needs seriously. Theirs are usually the first mouths that get fed each morning—before Moon the Dog's, before Myladylove's, before my own. Usually…because most of the time I toss out a few scoops of cracked corn when I step onto the deck to check on the river and whatever world beyond that's visible in the pre-dawn darkness. The hanging basket of sunflower seeds and the wire cadge with the suet block seldom need changing first thing.
However, this morning I noticed both gallon-sized seed feeders were all but empty, and that not a crumb of the pressed suet blocks remained in the cadges. Given Myladylove's work schedule, I decided to wait until after we'd breakfasted to take care of things. And I because I didn't wan't to trample the scattered corn into the fresh snow, I held off on that, too.
Not a popular decision. Even though it was still pre-sunrise when I went back out, it was light enough to see. And what I saw were droves of impatient and doubtless famished birds, perched and salivating on nearby limbs. Cardinals, titmice, nuthatches, chickadees, wren, woodpeckers, finches, sparrows. Not to mention the pair of mallards paddling about in the pool below the cottage riffle, trying to act as if they were not watching for the measure of corn I toss on the bank whenever they're around. More than a few of my avian wards looked to be giving me the evil eye.
What did I do? Well, nobody likes to be rushed by birds…but you can't reason with them, either. So I apologized and promised I'd try and do a better job of keeping ahead of things. I also informed anyone listening that yesterday afternoon, Myladylove and I made the short trek to the farm supply store, where we purchased an additional 100 pounds of sunflower seeds, 50 pounds of cracked corn, and 24 blocks of suet.
Then I hustled back indoors before I got pecked, flogged, or trampled. I wonder if Saint Francis had to put up with such cheekiness?