Saturday, February 27, 2016

Shade is good for birds. Didn't you know that?

This morning I was running errands: taking some empty grocery bags back to the store, dropping off a suit for dry cleaning, taking Grace to a friends house.

And while I was at the grocery store, I noticed a Wild Birds Unlimited store in the same shopping complex. And I decided to give it a try because . . . well, let me back up for a second . . .

We have a swing set in our backyard. (You might remember it if you've been following Why Won't You Grow?! for a while.) And finally the swings broke and so now we have a big wooden structure in the backyard with no discernible purpose. (Now back to the story.)

. . . so, I decided to patronize (give my patronage?) to a local store here in Westerville and buy some new bird feeders that I can hand off of the now useless hooks on the now unused wooden structure in the backyard. What could be hard, I thought? Just go in. Find some reasonably priced bird feeders and some seed and Bob's your uncle. Easy peasy.

Well, I underestimated the fervor of the local birding community, let me tell you.

As I was looking at bird feeders and calculating in my head how much I should buy ($45 for a single bird feeder seemed a bit much, I thought.) a store employee asked if I needed any help. And since I didn't think that I did, I said "No thanks. I'm just looking for bird feeders for my backyard."

And so she goes on to explain to me that there are different kids of bird feeders for different kinds of birds, dummy. And what you're holding now is for thistle seeds which are good for finches. And also this one here is for upside-down perching and feeding, which is particularly good for goldfinches, don't you know? The larger mesh items are for peanut food and a different kind of bird all together. And what are you looking for?

Well, confronted with all this information, I didn't want to expose myself as a complete and utter bird-watching noob. So I just mumbled something that was polite and didn't say that I was just looking for some cheap-ass bird feeders and I'm not opening a new branch of the Audubon society or anything. I got my bird feeders, suitable for upside-down perching goldfinches and some wild-bird seed mix that worked.

At the counter, the manager--maybe?--asked me if I wanted to sign up for their information newsletter and because sometimes they host events and walks. But, aforementioned--I'm just a dude that is now regretting not picking up a bird feeder in the pet aisle of the grocery store--where no one cares what I'm doing or even knows if I'm doing it right or anything like that. Oh, such sweet, sweet consumer anonymity!

Anyhow, I politely declined and was paying and getting ready to leave when the cherry on top of this shaming sundae was delicately set on top.
There was a woman checking out beside me. And she had some big bag of something called "No Mess" (?!!) that the manager had to help carry to her vehicle. And so the woman who had been grilling me over by the bird feeders switched with the manager to finish my transaction. She saw that I had politely declined to sign up for their walking tours and asked again--with a twinge of confusion--if I wanted to sign up. And, like St. Peter, I politely declined for a third time.

But instead of a cock crowing in the distance, the No Mess lady checking out beside me took a look at my purchases and said--with a strong bit of incredulity and laughter--"You must not have many birds! Look at that small bag of seed you're buying!"

I smiled it off, but with the growing shame that I was not worthy of buying bird supplies in their store. If I'm not ready to haul off enough No Mess (?!?) seed to rival the lorakeets in the Columbus Zoo, then why was I there? This lady was going to build some sort of wildlife preserve in her backyard. So, what was my plan exactly? Hanging some random upside-down perching goldfinch lures on an abandoned swing set?

Yeah, right.

Good luck, ya noob.

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