Where are the birds?

The birds are chirping around our house. There are a lot of sounds – from mourning doves to cardinals and wrens to orioles.

Unfortunately, most of it is coming from inside the house. It’s my wife’s bird clock, which, instead of chiming, makes the sound of a different bird every hour.
We used to live in bird paradise. There is a grove of pine trees that wraps around two sides of our old house in Alabama. Along with the pines, there is a huge Japanese maple, an overgrown wisteria, a dozen dogwoods and more. To all of this cover, we added two or three birdfeeders and a birdbath, and we couldn’t keep the birds away.
There were five or six pairs of cardinals, seven or eight sets of doves, chickadees, wrens, and starlings.
I particularly liked watching the goldfinches come perch and pick the seeds out of the dried black-eyed Susans we’d left in the flower garden over the winter. Before we left, we’d even attracted a bluebird.
If that was bird paradise, I’m not sure what to call what we have here.
We have the same birdbath and a feeder; we’ve added little trees to the existing pines in the back. And still, the birds have been slow to settle in.
Oh, we get a few. A cardinal or two, an occasional chickadee and a couple of mourning doves, but there are not very many. (Is it still a birdbath if no birds bathe in it? I wonder.)
Why all the concern?
Do I lie awake at night, worrying about saving the bird population of northern Mississippi? No, I’m afraid I’m a little more self-absorbed than that.
The truth is that we do it for me and the dog. I love to sit on the couch on a sunny weekend afternoon, a basketball game on TV, and watch the wildlife through the sunroom window.
You never know when they’re going to get my attention.
All of the sudden, I’ll yell out, “Look, there’s a squirrel on the hill eating the bread we threw out this morning!”
“Thanks, Wayne,” Jenny says.
“Oh, look at the two mourning doves nestled on the stone around the flower bed. Do you suppose they’re a couple?” I’ll ask. “Can you see them?”
“Yes, I see them. They mate for life,” Jenny says, hardly looking up from her chair where she’s grading papers of her fourth graders.
Then, there’s Molly, the beagle. She moves from one sunroom window to another, trying to make sure she doesn’t miss seeing a bird or squirrel.
“Maybe we should get some sunflower seed. They might be tired of the wild bird seed,” I said.
Finally, after I had interrupted Jenny several times Sunday, she said, “Let’s go to Lowe’s. Will that make you happy?”
Two new bird feeders and a big bag of sunflower seed later, there’s not a bird in sight.
“I think the new feeders may have scared them off,” I said.
She gave me that look – you know the one.
“I don’t know who is worse, you or Molly,” she said. “I guess it’s Molly. At least you don’t slobber on the blinds.”

 T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at publisher@newalbanygazette.com.