My husband loves feeding the birds.  It just makes his heart happy.  But, last winter we encountered a bit of an issue with our bird feeder.  It seemed to attract the deer as much as it attracted the birds.  And deer are much more expensive to feed. Add to that the fact that my garden, when not covered in snow, is filled with hostas; a virtual smorgasbord for Bambi and friends.  I didn’t want them to get used to feasting in our yard and therefore, I put the kibosh on the bird/squirrel/deer feeding venture in which we were participating.

I do, however, appreciate having a husband with a happy heart so last week we bought a new bird feeder.  Oh wait, it’s not just a bird feeder, it’s a “bird feeding system.”  Piece number one is a pole with a curlicue thingamabob on the bottom which allows you to screw it down into the ground.  Sixteen inches is the prescribed depth.  Next, there is a stabilizer that fits over pole number one which is designed to keep the bird feeder from rocking back and forth in the wind; because we all know how dizzy that makes the birds.  Nobody wants dizzy birds hanging around in their backyard.  That could get ugly.

Once you have the first pole stabilized then it’s time to add the extension pole, which hopefully raises the feeder to heights unreachable by the deer.  Follow that up with step four – adding the baffle.  The baffle is designed to discourage . . .  no, PREVENT . . .  the raccoons and squirrels from getting onto the feeder.  I’m guessing it ‘baffles’ the little critters but the jury is still out regarding its effectiveness.

With the pole in place it’s now time to add the hooks from which the bird feeders will hang.  Conveniently, there are two hooks which necessitates purchasing two feeders in an effort to add symmetry to the “bird feeding system.”  “Symmetry is beauty” my son once told me as he helped me in the garden many years ago. (I think he’d just finished some sort of art class at the time.) Who am I to fight the fine marketing idea of symmetry for the birds?

The whole “system” is topped off with a decorative finale. Couldn’t we just get a bird to sit on top full time to plug that hole?  We could pay him with say, free food.  I suppose there are bird labor laws preventing such inhumane bird treatment, so, there I was, having to make important design decisions that I clearly had not prepared for in advance.  Where’s a good exterior designer when you need one?

We finally had all of the important pieces for our “bird feeding system” pulled off the shelf when the salesman asked if we wanted a branch.  A branch?  What are we building here, a bird feeder or a tree house for our feathered friends?  The metal branch (complete with metal shaped leaves), it seems, is to give the birds a place to sit while they wait for their turn at the feeder.  Honestly!  Is that tree just ten feet away too far of a commute for them? What next?  A little “take you turn” ticket dispenser?

I was shocked when my husband suggested we go ahead and add the branch.  He’s the frugal one in the family!  I suggested that perhaps we save the branch purchase for another day once the bird traffic has escalated to an unhealthy level or we are forced to call in the S.W.A.T. team to break up a backyard bird brawl.

Once the feeder was in place we waited for the bird word to get out.  At first, the birds seemed unaware of our newly installed bird buffet but finally, as I sat at my desk one day I saw a blue jay perched on top. A few minutes later I heard what sounded to me like a bird announcement emanating through the trees and I kid you not, in less than thirty minutes birds of all varieties were surrounding the feeders.

My husband has a happy heart; the birds are getting fatter, and me?  I’m busy dreaming up ways to spend the money we saved by not buying that silly branch.