For the Birds Radio Program: Wintering Robins, Waxwings, and Others
This year’s Christmas Bird Counts from all over the eastern half of the county had record numbers of robins. On New Year’s Eve there was a flock of about 20 on Peabody Street, pigging out on mountain ash berries. And there have been enormous flocks of Bohemian Waxwings moving about along the North Shore of Lake Superior, and a handful of Cedar Waxwings, which are usually all gone from up here by now, are still sticking it out. And bluebirds are visiting some bird feeders in northern Wisconsin.
If you happen to have bluebirds or robins and want to help them out, Carrol Henderson’s book, Wild about Birds: The DNR Bird-Feeding Guide, suggests offering mealworms and a high-protein mix made up of:
1 cup of peanut butter,
1 cup of rendered suet,
1 cup of peanut hearts,
1 cup of tiny currants,
4 cups of yellow cornmeal,
1 cup of flour, and 1 cup of shelled sunflower chips.
I’ve put this recipe on my web page, or you can send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to “For the Birds” in care of this station and I’ll send it to you. And speaking of feeding birds, here’s a word from our sponsor:
This is Jim Baker. You know, back in 1987, I retreated to the woods with nothing but my Blue Jays and my bagpipes, to get away from sivilization. I still hear from friends and family occasionally, especially around Christmas, and they keep asking me why I don’t come back to so-called “normal life.”
And every now and then I start thinking about some of the things I miss, especially when it gets to 20 below and my frosted-up cabin windows are shaking in the wind and snow piles up so high against my door that the only way I can get to my woodpile to keep the fire going is to climb out the window, and then when I finally manage to shovel my way back in the door I realize it’s locked and the key is inside so I have to climb in through the window again with my bad back—I’m gettin’ way too old for this. And this year most of my Blue Jays hightailed it out of here and headed south, leaving me to face the winter of my discontent pretty much alone.
So I started thinking to myself, “Hey, leaving this jay-forsaken place really wouldn’t be THAT bad, would it?” But every time, something happens to shake me back into reality. Like last week for instance, when I was spreading a Duluth News Tribune under my bird cages. I came across an article that stopped me cold. This so-called “news” story was that Jack Nicholson does not use Viagra.
Wow. Are 1999 news stories all going to revolve around over-the-hill celebrities and whether they do or don’t use Viagra? No, they aren’t—another news story I read was about some French restaurant where the chef was lacing dinners with Viagra—I wonder if he was calling them the “quicker picker upper suppers”?
And then I started thinking about this whole presidential business—how our choices last time were between a Republican who now serves as a spokesman for Viagra and a Democrat who needs a powerful antidote to Viagra, and I thought, nope. I’m happy right where I am, up the shore a ways from all that. I may not have as many jays as usual this year, but even a handful of jays and some peace and quiet are better than dealing with this so-called civilization.
So if you want to escape the bizarre reality that we call the 1990s and enjoy some peace and quiet with Nature’s Perfect Bird, fill your feeders with the bird food guaranteed NOT to be laced with Viagra. Baker’s Blue Jay Blend. Available only at Baker’s Blue Jay Barn, up the shore a ways. It’s unimpeachably delicious.