Just a great story by Keith Kridler of Mt. Pleasant, Texas
Years ago (late 1970’s before mealworms) one of my bluebirders Edith Gingles fed a family of bluebirds everyday on her back porch. She fed all sorts of birds but kept a sling shot with a “three cornered rock” handy for the creatures that would harm her chosen feathered friends. English Sparrows and squirrels would have to duck and dodger her fury, there were no squirrel proof bird feeders. For those who don’t know about a three cornered rock, no matter which side you got smacked with you got hit with a “sharp side” of those rocks.
I guess Edith was 70 or older when she stole one of my road side boxes I had put up about 1/4 mile from her home. I knew because she put it on the power pole right beside her trailer house just about 50 feet off of the road….I replaced the box up the road again and the next week she had two boxes up now in her back yard……Next week she stole the third replacement nesting box……That one was “pretty” and it ended up on her back porch railing about 6 feet from her door…..
I finally stopped to visit with the “nest box thieves” as this was a “new” road for me and I was there for a little over two hours enjoying milk and homemade cookies and hearing stories about East Texas back before asphalt roads and before Model T’s showed up. Although I had stopped to tell them that bluebirds would NOT nest on their back porch, we watched “her” baby blues finish off building a nest in that box just a few feet away from us as I made a whole tray of soft oat meal cookies disappear. It probably would make a good book as these visits went on till she turned 90 or so and moved to town when the strip mine coal company made it out north of town and her coal went to the big boilers.
Anyway she taught me all about feeding bluebirds during our “cold winters”. (We froze at 32*F in the last hour it will be 68*F tomorrow for my bluebirds, but my brother in Ohio is at 2*F right now!)
Favorite food for bluebirds was fresh baked cornbread with extra sugar and extra lard and or extra butter within the mix. They got this everyday during the winter and this did NOT come out of some mix.
She would add any type of chopped nuts, she would crumble up the mix while it was still warm then add the nuts just before she went outside. Raisins were really cheap back then and she added a handful on top or beside the mix.
Bluebirds REALLY liked ANY cooked meat, especially fatty beef roast, finely chopped with small bits of fat separate but also finely chopped. They liked shredded chicken and or poultry, especially the fatty old laying hens you once could buy for “stew hens”. Shred the meat really fine, pour hot grease over the dryer cuts of pieces, chill it to solidify the grease and set it out after stirring it up a bit to break up the smaller flakes of chicken.
She found that bluebirds liked MANY vegetables IF you added butter and or shredded cheese to them. Cauliflower, cooked in a cream gravy, add a couple of pats of butter, hand grate some cheddar cheese and set out this mixture all finely chopped and the bluebirds LOVED this.
Ditto for old mashed potatoes, add in a little lard, butter and or bits of meat and they would also eat these.
Of course they liked cooked rolled oats and or grits, Cream of Wheat to Yankees, but again either topped with chilled, skimmed off grease or add some lard or butter to the dish.
In the summer she picked up “old” blueberries, blackberries and other fruits at the local store, chopped these up, dried them on window screens up on top of her metal back porch roof and then froze them for use in the winter. Extras ended up as “bluebird” food.
She would sit out on the back deck, all wrapped up as flocks of birds came and ate various foods all around her. So she learned just how to feed all of the various backyard birds and which recipes they liked the best.
She was REALLY pissed when at 80 the hospital got “new younger” doctors and told her that they would no longer accept “volunteers” at the hospital once they reached 80. Of course she had been a nurse for longer than ANY on the hospital board had been alive. It was their loss and the birds gain as she would spend the next 10 years out “nursing” and observing her birds. She continued to “nurse” her friends at the various “old folks” homes, until she had to move in also.
Anyway, every winter storm I think about all of the folks who are taking better care and or worrying more about “their” birds than they are about their own health and or diet! Keith Kridler
Oh… how we can relate to this 🙂