The Search for HCLBs

Last year I invested in a bird feeder for my backyard, hoping to feed hungry, cute, little birds (AKA HCLBs). Many of my neighbors have bird feeders and talk about how fun it is to watch their HCLBs eat, and I thought it might be something my grandchildren would enjoy doing with me, you know, watching birds. (I will do anything to lure my grandchildren to my house and cookies don’t always work.)

But something has gone wrong. The picture on the bird feeder package showed multiple HCLBs fluttering and munching on the seeds and other enticements. Perfect, I thought.

Just to clarify, my definition of cute means colorful (at least two colors, three or four would be better, yellow or blue is a requirement), smaller than my hand (and I don’t have wimpy hands), with small beaks. Hummingbirds fit the definition perfectly, but I have a separate feeder for them, so I exclude them from my HCLB story. I bought a twenty-pound sack of bird food. (How much can a HCLB eat, even if it is on the verge of starvation?) The first day, the bird feeder emptied out. This was puzzling because I hadn’t seen even one HCLB, but I refilled it, once again, only to find it was drained by morning. I was on the second half of the $19.99 bag of bird food, and still had not seen any HCLBs.

This called for action. Security cameras monitor my backyard, and desperate times call for desperate measures, so I aimed my security camera at the bird feeder, set it for a twenty-four-hour cycle, and waited. The next morning, once again the feeder was depleted of food, so I watched the play by play, which was worse than watching a political debate.

I did not see a single HCLB, but I did see critters: pigeons, a crow, and squirrels feasting on the HCLB food. Thieves! A racoon showed up toward morning, and the pigeons chased him off.

What to do next? I could put a sign on it For HCLBs only, but that probably wouldn’t work. Poisoned seeds or a shotgun? No, too desperate, even for Idaho. I decided to check with the HCLB expert, Dr. Google, and low and behold, a plethora of ideas came bursting forth, but the bottom line is that I am supposed to rearrange my backyard and buy multiple kinds of food catering to a variety of animals. This wasn’t what I bargained for. So, I moved swiftly to Plan B. Dump the feeder in the trash, head over to my neighbors and watch their HCLBs. Bonus, most watchings include lively conversation and a glass or two of wine.

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