I love being at home. It’s not that anything remarkable happens there. It’s that a succession of unremarkable moments, when truly inhabited, turn out to be quite beautiful.
When I have time around my actions to feel the rhythm of the day unfolding, I also have time to observe the details of my life in a way that lets me see how incredible all of this is, and that some sort of “I” in me feels privileged to be aware of it.
Just like the little brown jobs or LBJs my bird-watching friends talk about (nod to A_Span and MRM III) — the hard-to-distinguish (especially female) birds of the perching passerine family, such as sparrows or wrens, whose similarities can make their various species hard for humans to accurately identify — the moments of my days at home are small, hardly varying on the surface, but full of song.
Take today. I’m talking like someone knowledgeable about birds, but I know almost nothing. However, thanks to Bob at Gilligalou Bird Inc. in Almonte, ON, I know more today than I did yesterday. Tuesday on my way to meet a friend for lunch I stopped in at Gilligalou to ask how to put suet into the feeder I had bought the other week at the co-op. You’d think it was easy, but at my first go, I felt totally inept. Bob interrupted his own lunch to answer my 15 minutes of questions about what birds eat, and to explain the importance of small to large seeds, nuts, and mealworms, and some of the best ways to provide these.
He told me about Gilligalou’s specially formulated blends, with no filler, that give wild birds optimal selection and nutrition; showed me various styles of feeder; talked about habitat; and reassured me that I’m not being a bad citizen if my feeders go for a few days without being filled. The birds will come back, but they will establish a habit of eating at my house to the extent that I provide them with a reliable food supply, water, cover, and nesting opportunities.
So today I spent a fun and messy half hour with seed and suet. First, I filled my old feeder – left behind by the home’s previous owners – with seed for the perchers and the ground feeders.
Next I crammed two types of suet – a peanut blend, and a mealworm blend – into the different holes of the wooden hanging feeder I bought the other week at the co-op. It’s the first time I’ve held a mealworm, and although they made me jump for a second, I’m most intrigued.
Next step: a proper feeder with rails for the ground-feeding birds, since there is nowhere for them to land on the seed feeder I have now. In the meantime, I’m trusting they will continue to gather the big seeds from the snow where they fall as the smaller birds eat. And after that: well, I have dreams, but I’ll be happy with life’s LBJs.
17 January, 2016 – Update: This week’s visitors include chickadees, juncos, a multitude of posturing jays, a male house finch, downy woodpeckers, and a discriminating cardinal.
3 thoughts on “Life’s little brown jobs”
Lovely Ellen, to read your words and to have a glimpse into the flow of your life there ❤️
The first suet we put out was a bonanza for the squirrel who made off with it and the feeder into the woods. No more birdfeeding for us for now because of — well, cannot mention.
Loved this and the photos!
T_Cat gets a little too cozy with the birds? We’re having many visitors here, and no free range cats as yet. I’m endeavouring to picture the squirrel making off with the feeder.