February 12, 2021 – All Creatures Great and Small

I think I made a terrible mistake! The last two days have gotten so cold that all of the syrup has frozen solid in the hummingbird feeders that I have dispersed throughout my yard. I keep bringing them inside until the syrup turns from a solid to a liquid but it’s below 20 degrees today and no matter what I do, the syrup keeps freezing. I went on the internet for answers and there are a few things I can do, but had I been a responsible ‘birder’ in the first place, I wouldn’t even be in this predicament. If I had done my research and removed the hummingbird feeders in late fall, my three resident hummingbirds would have migrated south along with their other fine, feathered friends and living the good life. But because I didn’t educate myself as I should have, my three amigos have decided to stay put and should anything happen to them (i.e.; freezing to death or starving), it’s going to be my fault! And I’ll never forgive myself.

What was I thinking? Now I’m all in a panic because I’m worried they won’t survive the winter. For their syrup, I was going to change the ratio of sugar to water to try and prevent it from freezing. I was mixing 1 part sugar with 4 parts water; however, I read that mixing 1 part sugar with 3 parts water should help. Hang on, I just read more and it recommended NOT to do that because it can actually damage their kidneys and liver. Crap! I’ve thought about what we humans do to keep beverages hot or cold and one thing we often use is neoprene (think scuba suits). I can buy it by the yard at the fabric store but even better, I can buy a few beer cozies and modify them to fit around a bird feeder. Until I get my hands on a beer cozy or three, there is another thing that I discovered might prove useful, Christmas lights. If you wrap the feeder with miniature LED lights, it should keep the sugar water warm enough to prevent it from freezing. I only have one string of LED lights that are battery powered so I put them to use. Whether or not they do the trick is yet to be determined.

Ack! My love of hummingbirds might have worked against me (and them). I hope they make it. I would feel terrible if anything bad happens to them. They are so colorful and delicate and beautiful. I can watch them all day long. Hummingbirds are my all-time favorite but I love all birds, even the ones that many people find less than desirable. Chickadees, finches, parakeets, cockatiels, chickens, owls, geese, emus, ducks, heron, quail, lovebirds, parrots, flamingos, doves, flickers, crows, seagulls, eagles, ospreys, hawks, there is something about a bird soaring through the air or skittering across the ground that is so incredibly fascinating. Oh, geez. I just realized something. There is actually one particular bird I’m not a fan of, vultures. I know they serve a purpose in nature, but yuck, I find them repulsive and rather frightening. If you see a bunch of vultures circling above and then descending, something is dead or in the process of dying and they’re getting ready to have a feast.

As much as I am fascinated by birds, I won’t hesitate to stop and watch in wonder if I come across another animal, any animal. When I was younger, I found squirrels to be quite entertaining. In fact, I found a way to use peanuts to my advantage. Squirrels love peanuts and will go to great lengths to acquire them. I found that if I was patient enough, when I stuck an unshelled peanut in my mouth (with half sticking out), I could get a squirrel to climb right up onto my shoe, up my pant leg and blouse, and pull it right from my mouth. Once I had that trick down, I started luring them into the house with the peanuts. That’s when things ‘went wrong’, just like when I naively left the feeders out for the hummingbirds over winter. If you’ve seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what I mean by ‘went wrong’. Take it from me, don’t bring them inside. They aren’t the most well-mannered guests.

I used to spend whole afternoons just hanging out in pet shops. I would start with the cats and dogs and then move onto the birds and the rodents, and from there to the lizards and turtles, and later to the fish. After looking through every single aquarium to see what each contained, I was wholly content and also a bit nauseous (from the thick glass). I also used to love going to zoos. But I feel differently now. Some zoos are pretty good and give the animals sufficient care and room to roam and then there are others where you just want to open the cage doors and set them free. I’ve seen too many tigers and leopards and lions pace back and forth in their tiny cages, hour after hour, day after day, with a crazed look in their eyes. It breaks your heart. I’m actually relieved to hear that Barnum and Bailey and a lot of other circuses have permanently shut down because the horrendous way the animals were treated was terribly inhumane.

Where I live, I have the opportunity to experience so many beautiful birds and animals. I feel truly fortunate. At the river, there are ospreys and eagles, beavers and marmots. Near my home, there are mule deer, raccoons, horses, cows, goats, cats, dogs, alpacas, sheep, squirrels, chipmunks, and all kinds of birds. It is a veritable feast for the eyes! There are also rats and mice but I’d rather not spend much time discussing either of them. They are known for getting into things they shouldn’t, like the engine compartment in my vehicle or inside the sewer lines in my house. There are also cougars and bears in the area but none that I have yet to witness (although I hear about them on the news). I would prefer to not have a close encounter with either predator because they have been known to kill humans under certain circumstances and I just don’t want to end up anyone’s or anything’s dinner. It’s not the way I want to leave this planet, thank you very much.

On one of my walking routes, I’ve developed a kinship with a beautiful, black horse. Other than the fact that she’s female, I know very little about her, including her name. For a long time, her owners would leave her in a tiny stall at the back of their property and would only let her out about twice a year. People complained to the local animal control but the officials there said that their hands were tied. As long as the horse was provided adequate shelter, food and water, there was nothing they could do. I used to get really angry when I would stop by the property and see her standing in that tiny stall, month after month, year after year. I’m not sure what happened, but about two months ago, the owners opened the gate to the stall and the horse can now roam freely around the yard. It makes my heart so happy! She comes to greet me at the fence each time I walk by. If I’m having a bad day, it can really turn my mood around.

As far as what animals we have in our home, there is only one sweet, goofy dog at present. We’ve considered getting more, but the more you get, the greater the mess and the expense. In the past, a rabbit, a turtle, a rat, two cockatiels, 3 cats, several dogs, and even a snake have resided in our home or on our property. They were all brought in voluntarily, even the rat and the snake. But as my husband and I have gotten older and our desire to sweep and/or vacuum up dog hair every day or every other day, pick up unbelievable amounts of poop, wipe snot off every glass surface that our dog’s nose comes into contact with (which is a lot), tolerate incessant begging at every meal, and take walks no matter how bitter cold or boiling hot it is outside, the chance that we get another pet after this one crosses the Rainbow Bridge is unlikely. She has been my constant companion and source of entertainment for the last 4 years; however, each time we lose an animal, I’m devastated.

After she’s gone, I think we’re done. It’s too heartbreaking having to say goodbye. I think I’m just going to enjoy all that nature has to provide and remove ‘pet owner’ from my stats. I will have to be more cognizant of how what I do affects nature’s plans in the future and not unintentionally throw off migration patterns or other important survival techniques. My three amigos should be in Central America or Mexico sipping on some nice Palomas right now, but because of my knuckleheadedness, they’re spending the winter freezing their beaks off. Thank you so much for stopping by. For the folks that are ‘following’ me, I am grateful for you and the continued interest you have in reading about the variety of things I talk about each day. I’m no poet laureate or anyone with significant credentials to speak of but I do enjoy the opportunity to share things about my life and family or to just make simple random observations. If all goes well and I haven’t run you off, I trust you will return tomorrow as will I

4 thoughts on “February 12, 2021 – All Creatures Great and Small

  1. HOpe the LED lighting works. I had a window at work, where my desk sat up to it and on the other side were bushes and I got to witness a hummingbird make their nest and watched 2 eggs appear, open and little birdies being fed, and then eventually flying away. I was so EXCITED. It FLEW, IT FLEW…and the other lady co-worker, looked up in time to see the 2nd one fly away.

    Like

    1. Wow! That’s amazing! I didn’t have much success with the LED lighting but I did make some feeder covers with some beer cozies tonight. I’m also going to invest in some hand warmers. From what I’ve read, they’ll keep the water from freezing for at least 7 hours. Wish me luck!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I was a dumb kid when I used to do that. I don’t do it anymore. Rabies doesn’t seem like something I’d like to ‘catch’ at this stage in my life. We just leave the peanuts out on the porch nowadays.

      Liked by 1 person

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