During the winter, when food is scarce, I maintain several birdfeeders around my house and yard. My “season” somewhat arbitrarily runs from November 1 to April 1. Then I take most of them down, because there’s plenty of food available and I don’t want to encourage a bird population larger than the neighborhood can naturally sustain.

Since my feeder season coincides with the school year, I make my rounds checking and refilling the feeders early each morning before I leave for school.

I do leave one feeder up year-round – a small platform feeder attached to my kitchen window, which attracts a nice sampling of the birds around the house. But since my schedule is a lot more leisurely now, so’s my feeder schedule – pretty much whenever I get around to it. This does not sit well with my feathered friends.

The other morning I was reading the paper when I kept hearing a fluttering and rapping noise coming from the kitchen. When I went to check, I was confronted by about a half-dozen sparrows on, in, and around the now-empty feeder staring into the kitchen, glaring at me. Just to make sure I got the message, one of the bolder ones rapped on the window with his beak, then tapped down on the feeder as if to make the point that the feeder was empty.

Talk about a sense of entitlement!

It worked, though. I went and refilled the feeder for them. I didn’t notice any great clapping of wings or other show of gratitude.

It reminded me of an incident many years ago when a certain colleague of mine, who shall remain nameless, thought it would be nice to put a birdfeeder outside her classroom. It was winter, I think the weather was quite cold, when I pointed out the feeder was empty. She said she hadn’t gotten around to filling it.

I couldn’t resist giving her the lecture on how birds have to eat huge amounts during the winter to maintain their body heat and energy level. I scolded her for first creating a dependence, and then not fulfilling her obligation. I drew her a picture of local birds fainting from hunger. By that time, she was nearly in tears, and as I recall, promised to fill it as soon as she got more birdseed.

This is what passes for my sense of humor, and by now she’s accustomed to it. But I’ll bet she’s probably never put up a birdfeeder since.

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