Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The fine art of BIRD-FEEDING...
...trying to achieve some order in the wild kingdom...

I've watched people feed the birds...they'll have a sack of bread pieces, and they'll throw out handfuls which land in big bunches on the ground, and the birds swoop in madly, killing each other in the quest for a few precious crumbs. It's "survival of the fittest", because the most aggressive birds get the most food, while others stand away from all of the action and go away hungry. Well, I don't do things that way. I bring 2 or 3 loaves of bread with me, and I'll pull out a slice, tear a little bite-sized bit off it and throw it to an individual seagull. If I see an aggressive bird bite another bird, I'll toss a piece to the bird that got bitten. Oh yeah, I'll toss one to the bird who "bit" also. See, I don't like competition. I think everyone deserves a fair shot, as do all the birds. So, I'll toss pieces as far as I can for the birds who don't want to come up close, and I'll drop pieces for other birds close to me.

I have found that even though seagulls are largely afraid of humans, through my bird-feeding method, they'll perch on a picnic table where I'm sitting; sometimes they'll even roost on the bench I'm sitting, once they perceive I'm no threat. They must know I have a bad back and can't move too fast. You oughta hear the welcome I get when I show up on the dike road with my loaves of bread...they all swoop in from wherever, and raise a holy ruckus. "Oh boy, the bread guy!!!", they must be thinking. All of those doggone seagulls look so much alike, it's hard to tell one from the other. Although there are a few aggressive birds who are slightly bigger than the other ones. There are a couple of them that have brown spots rather than the standard gray-and-white color scheme; I wonder where they came from; they're larger; I wonder if they came inland from the ocean, because I've seen birds like that there.

As I mentioned, I hate competition; everyone gets a piece of bread. (oh my, now I'm actually "personalizing" the seagulls!)(am I turning into a BIRDbrain?) There are a couple of seagulls, though, that I really favor, because I really admire them for surviving in the cruel, competitive bird world. One seagull has only one foot; his other leg reaches the ground, but there's no foot on the end of it, just a stump. Another seagull has only one leg. That bird is really aggressive, tho, as if it is making up for its physical shortcoming. So if I see those two birds, I'll toss just a few more bits of bread their way. Actually, the one-legged seagull is very resourceful. Today he (or she?) flew overhead, and I tossed a bread bit into the air, and "he" snagged it. So, all the while I was feeding the birds, this one just kept flying in circles around me, and although I missed him a few times, "he" had quite a meal. The one-footed bird with the stump isn't quite as resourceful; it stays on the ground and gets victimized by the other birds. So I'll throw a few crumbs at all the birds around it, and when they're in a feeding frenzy, then I'll toss one to the bird with the "stump". Like I said, "everybody gets some".

I make a game out of bird-feeding; I'll spot a bird that hasn't had a piece of bread for a while, and I'll try to toss one to it; I'm getting pretty good; oftentimes the bird doesn't even have to move to get a piece of bread. Other gulls will stand rather close to me, and I swear they look right at me and squawk out their best version of "please, throw one to ME!", and I do. I'll toss crumbs to the left, to the right, and even in back of me. And I've noticed that the birds just kinda stand around me without squawking at, or pecking at each other. I try to be fair, and I believe in some primitive way, they sense that, and know that if they're patient, I'll get to them. Now the GEESE kinda complicate things. They'll walk right up to me, and steal the bread right out of my hands. Today, a goose was actually standing on top of the picnic table, in back of where I was sitting, waiting for bread. That goose got a meal, too. In fact, when "he" got impatient, he would actually peck my COAT, letting me know he was there. For a while today, one goose and 2 seagulls were on the table-top, within arm's length of me. That is odd, especially for the seagulls, who never really get close to people.

Today, as I fed the seagulls and geese, a "mama" goose approached me, and following her were 4 or 5 baby geese, which REALLY surprised me. Well, it's spring, after all. These things happen. The mama goose ate a couple pieces of bread and then walked away, again followed by the "goose-ettes". That was really something. There is one big white "daddy" goose who comes up to eat bread sometimes; today he stayed away. He is HUGE, with a huge thick beak, and I was kinda afraid of him. But one day, he waddled up to me and I took a chance; I held out some bread and he slowly and gently removed it from my hand. Was I ever surprised!

I don't know when this photo was taken, but it's possible some of the gulls that gobble up my bread are among the flock here.

I don't have it "together" enough to have a pet. I don't want to have to tend to it constantly; I don't want to walk a dog and have to "scoop up" stuff; I don't want a parrot or a parakeet; it would drive me crazy squawking all the time. I am allergic to cats for the most part; I have to wash my hands every time I touch one; if I touch my face without washing my hands after petting a cat, my face will break out and I'll start sneezing. I used to HATE seagulls; why do I feel different about them now? I honestly don't know. This last winter, I saw them outside trying to survive, and that touched a nerve. I also feel that way about the ducks and geese. So I fed them. I don't know if birds are smart enough to be thankful; I don't even know if they can THINK. But while I'm feeding them, I feel like they all are my pets for a short while. I swear those seagulls look at me and PLEAD. And when they're all squawking and flying around me, I have "life" around me. Feeding them the way I do, I honestly have a good time doing it. I must be getting senile.

And finally, these closing comments from the birds themselves: "Squawk! Screeeee! Aaaaark, aaaaaark! AWWWWWWK! Squawk, squawk!" (Thanks, guys...)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's an interesting read about feeding the seagulls.

12:20 AM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

Wow, anonymous...I JUST POSTED THAT! This must be some kind of internet record.

12:37 AM  
Blogger Sage said...

I want to know why you have seagulls in Idaho? How far is the Sea?
congrats, you won tonight!!!!!

10:41 PM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

Hi, Sage...I didn't even watch the game...I had to do some tape dubbing for a friend of mine, so that kept me busy. And the M's win. How about that.

We are about 400 miles away from the Specific (Pacific) ocean; it's my theory that gulls follow the rivers inland. You can see 'em at just about every lake around here.

11:17 PM  

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