Bird watching is better than TV!

My Story: Watching Bird TV

contributed by Christine Collier

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Putting birdfeeders in a window is far from an original idea, but after living in our house for decades, we've just recently discovered the joy of bird watching! We've turned the shrubs underneath our living room window into an outdoor stage! It started when we replaced our windows. They were so beautiful I didn't put curtains back up immediately and considered different decorating ideas. During this time, I noticed how often birds landed on our shrubs and walked across the top. They were so close it was as if we were watching a live nature show. Sometimes Mr. Squirrel or Mrs. Chipmunk stopped by as well. Then it hit me! Hang birdfeeders, suet, and a birdbath over the shrubs and forget about putting back the curtains! We have this option as we're far from the road and live in the country.

Our cardinal couple visits often. His bright red head and her muted one eat at the birdfeeder, walk across the shrubs searching between the prickly needles for more treats, sip some water or grab a quick bath, and then dive behind the shrubs looking for fallen seed on the ground. This delights my grandchildren! We've had this setup for a year now, and it causes no mess at all. The seeds aren't growing into plants, which has happened in other areas. Also, there are no bird droppings or at least none we ever see. We put the feeders far enough away so they don't dirty the windows or harm the glass with strong winds or storms. Flowering bushes and hedges would work as well as shrubs for your outdoor stage. Plan ahead, and it will save you work.

If you do have curtains at your windows, here are more ideas. Close the curtains. Set chairs in front of your window. Give the kids bird reference books, a pad of paper, and a pen. Announce that they are going to watch a different channel today on a big glass screen, and it is called "Bird TV"! Sweep open the curtains. Have them look at the birds in your window and find the same ones in their books and write down the date. Birds change with the seasons just as our weather does. Next have the children learn and write on their pads which seeds the birds prefer. Yellow finches love thistle, blue jays love sunflower seeds, etc. Bird TV sure beats the price of cable!

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