I put up a bird feeder this fall. We’ve had them before, but this time I chose to mount it right off one of the posts on my deck, about 20 feet from where I am sitting right now. It’s a large one, hanging by a sort of shepherd’s hook screwed right to the post. I can swing it back over the deck to fill it as needed, then swing it back out so the birds can do their thing and make their messes out over the yard instead of the deck.

I am not a skilled bird watcher by any measure, and my ability to identify birds is limited. For that, though, I found a useful app for my phone called Merlin, put out by the Cornell University ornithology lab. It makes it easy to find out what’s visiting.

So far, though, that’s been exceptionally simple. Black-capped chickadees and red-breasted nuthatches own the property. There has been an occasional white-breasted nuthatch, a sparrow or two (who like to camp out on the bottom tray for a while), and I’ve seen a blue jay now and then. There’s the real bully of the neighborhood, too: a red squirrel that scoots up onto the deck and drives everything else away for a bit. I’m working on getting him gone, but the timing hasn’t yet been right.

My deck (and the feeder) are 20-25 feet from the woods and swamp, where balsams, spruce, tamaracks, alders, birch, and poplars stand thick and untamed. With the leaves now gone, I sit frequently in this very chair and watch. At times, the movement across the wall of forest, and for yards deep into it, is constant. It is like living next to a natural version of O’Hare airport, as the chickadees mostly, and the nuthatches, and the occasional extra visitor, bounce from branch to branch, then brave the open spaces to flutter in and grab some seed. They are there for mere seconds, only to expertly disappear back into the woods, presumably to a nest well hidden from view. The chickadees perch upright and nibble from the feeder holes, while the nuthatches seem to prefer to eat head-down, toes gripping the metal mesh, attacking the seed from above.

Hoping to see a greater variety of species as the winter moves ahead, but even these are fun to watch.

And here’s the weird thing about having a blog site: you can figure out how to do all sorts of cool stuff with the software and easily create every imaginable look. But if there’s no content, it really doesn’t matter. Does it?