Autobiographical Essays

Beate Caspari-Rosen, MD (1910 - 1995)

The Bird Feeder

My bird feeder is attached with suction cups to my bedroom window. The birds arrive early in the morning: sparrows, purple finches, though their feather are actually red, and red-winged blackbirds. When a blackbird comes, the other birds take flight and wait patiently, until the big bird leaves. Some birds are messy eaters. They pick the best seeds and throw the unwanted away. These seeds fall to the ground below and attract pigeons. I have nothing against pigeons. As a matter of fact, I like to observe their mating game, the male strutting around the female, who behaves, as if she does not notice his behavior. However, the garden committee is frowning on their presence. Pigeons bring dirt and damage the lawn. So during the summer I take the feeder off. I must confess that I like to feed birds in order to observe their behavior, not because I worry that they would starve without my help. I am told that birds should not be spoiled. They should find their own nourishment during the summer. There is certainly enough food around. I do not believe in this strict ethic. I like to watch, for example, a pair of finches feeding on my largesse. The male, with its beautifully red-feathered head, sits at the side, while the female gorges herself. If a strange bird comes near his spouse, the male attacks it to drive it away. I like to watch a mother sparrow with her young ones, which though they can already fly, do not feed themselves. The mother will pick up seeds and stuff them in the chicks’ open beaks. However, I also observed, that after a certain time she refuses to feed them, and does not pay attention to their complaining peeps as she eats her own meal This forces the young ones to learn to feed themselves. Sparrows, on the whole, are vicious fighters and messy eaters, while the finches will pick daintily at their food. Too bad, I am robbed of my morning enjoyments, but when late fall arrives I shall have the pleasure of their company again.


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