This Pandemic Is For The Birds

We are moving into the sixth month of this pandemic. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired. Exhausted. Mentally, physically, emotionally and intellectually – thank goodness not hygienically.

Many people are spending more time at home – whether that’s working remotely, practicing self isolation, quarantining or just being bored.

I’ve returned to the Center, but my wife has been working remotely since March. Susan’s home office looks out over our yard and garden. We have a pollinator garden as well as more than 100 vegetable and herb plants. There’s plenty of options to attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

A recent addition to our slice of paradise are the hummingbird feeders I installed in July. This week, I learned that hummingbirds are naturally territorial and aggressive. If you have a hummingbird feeder – or several, like we have – you can get one bird who acts as though the feeder area is his private domain.

We have one humming-bully, and we’ve named him Greg. He attacks all the other birds that attempt to visit the feeders, often crashing into them to drive them off. He must be the reincarnated form of many of the antimask people I meet. Selfish. Reckless. Endangering the lives of others. A bully.

We don’t like Greg. He’s a birdbrain.

Bully hummingbirds usually stake out a spot that gives them a good vantage point of their territory so they can easily defend it. We considered cutting down the tree limb he sits on and surveys his feeder landscape, but it is 25 feet in the air, so that’s not happening.

We moved the feeders closer together, creating an all-you-can-eat avian sugar-water buffet. Greg just sat in the tree, observed, waited and attacked.

Once again – the same behavior I see from people who ignore COVID-related scientific facts and logic, citing freedom as their only excuse. I’m not going to change Greg’s mind any more than I can change the belief system of antimaskers. But more and more stores and municipalities are implementing mask mandates, which gives us additional safe options to explore. I don’t know where people opposed to wearing masks shop; I just know they aren’t around my family.

OK – back to the birds. My wife thought her window into nature would bring her joy and peace. Instead, she’s been eaten up with anxiety. She feeds the birds to draw closer to the environment and to fill her heart with bliss. Greg was taking away my wife’s joy.

Bullies only have the power you give them. Susan wasn’t going to give Greg any more authority to bully the other birds. At first I thought her solution was a tennis racket, so I was relieved when we moved the feeders to different sides of the house. This way we hoped Greg would get too tired, and our plan worked. He was fatigued, gave up and let everyone eat in peace.

Six months into this pandemic, I know one thing – people, for the most point, have made up their minds. Last month I wrote, “Wearing a mask; not wearing a mask. Public safety. Personal freedom. I will get sick. I won’t get sick. CDC statistics. My cousin Steve’s statistics. The debate continues.”

You do not have to agree with me. It is my opinion. My belief system. My personal creed. My anti-COVID pledge. And by keeping myself safe, I keep you – our members – safe.

My friend Robyn told me recently that, “You care deeply about people – especially older adults. Your principles will not be compromised, and people know where you stand.”

She’s right. I stand with the CDC. With Dr. Dart. With Dr. Fauci.

Wear a mask. Save a life.

And stay tuned. October’s column will follow my squirrel situation. Susan wants me to build small picnic tables that I can affix to our trees for these cute rodents to eat their meals. Welcome to my own private pandemic zoo experience. If only I were kidding. …