Friday, September 13, 2013

Honoring & Remembering the Service of Others Heartfelt Thanks to Ms. Susan Grimstead of WBU-NJ (as well as Sarah, D. William, Robert and Chris)


This past Wednesday was the twelfth anniversary of the 9-11-11 attacks and in bygone years I have dedicated blog posts (including ones here on Blogger) to those who lost lives in the attacks as well as to those who mourn losses as a result of that tragedy.

This year I acknowledged the anniversary on TLLG's FB Page as well as in an entry on hometalk. Both of the aforementioned posts included the photograph atop today's blogger entry. The image is of One World Trade Center (formerly known as The Freedom Tower), and it was taken by yours truly from a vantage point on the greenway along Manhattan's westside, slightly north of the Christopher Street entrance.

It is hard for me to believe that so much time has passed since that horrific day, but indeed time has passed and the construction taking place at the WTC site (including the building of One World Trade Center) is a physical indication of this fact.

During this year's 9-11-01 coverage, I heard the tail-end of a radio interview where the guests on the program were two brothers, who had lost someone in the attacks, and who were focusing their energy on efforts to promote the idea of September Eleventh being dedicated as a day to SERVE OTHERS, in memory of those both living and deceased, who served (by giving of their time and talents) to others on that fateful day and in the aftermath.

The position of these brothers is that while we still mourn the dead, and while we still feel for those who now have illnesses related to 9-11, a road to true healing is to also focus on how folks came together to help others in their time of need. 

One of the examples they cited was that of a man who came to NYC from Michigan — on a bus — to honor this year's 9-11 by helping folks (who were strangers to him) rebuild their homes (in Staten Island) which had been damaged as a result of Hurricane Sandy.


During the interview it was also brought up how service to others should not be limited to a one day dedication, nor does "service" need to always be in the form of a large gesture. Small gestures of service are essential too; and it is important to offer them as well as to honor them.

In my lifetime, I have been blessed by my interactions with a number of folks, and in today's entry, I'd like to acknowledge how my recent encounters with others have helped me to resolve (hopefully) an issue I am having feeding birds in my urban (NYC) garden; hence, my title for today's post: Heartfelt Thanks to Ms. Susan Grimstead of WBU-NJ (as well as Sarah, D. William, Robert and Chris).

To set up some context, I will backtrack a bit by stating that the last time I posted on Blogger was over a month ago on August 10th 2013, and noting this fact caused me to once again think of Dr. Seuss's "query", How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” (This is a quotation I have referred to in TLLG's cyber-venues, including a post which you may refer to by clicking here.) And indeed it is true "time has flewn" since my last entry here on Blogger.

Part of this time period has been spent helping my dear friend and editor Peggy, who is pictured below in better times celebrating her eighty-ninth birthday in my garden with her brother, Robert and sister-in-law,



where she is celebrating her eighty-ninth birthday in my garden. For this past July she had an accident and part of my hiatus from Blogger has been dedicated to helping her.

The other part of my hiatus time has been spent helping myself, as I also had an accident (under separate circumstances) the last week of August, which was brought on by my walking and talking at the same time. 

However, in the interim of dealing with these situations, I have made progress in resolving an issue surrounding my feeding the wild birds that visit my garden. As you may recall, I ended my last here on Blogger by stating the following:

" . . .  will be installing a pole system within ten days time.  I am hopeful that this will resolve some of the issues I've discussed, and I hope, dear reader, that if you ever encounter these concerns with feeding birds in your garden, that you will find how I've dealt with them to be of benefit to you!" 

Because the aforementioned entry was published on August 10th 2013, and I indicated that I would be installing a pole system within ten days of that time, I will pick up with the "installation" of my pole system, which ultimately took place on August 21, 2013. It can be seen in the image (taken by Juan V) which is posted below.



The "key" to what is being indicated in this image is as follows (the content is taken from a portion of a narrative within a post I published on hometalk on August 22nd 2013):

The letter "a" indicates a feeder that is part of my rain-or-shine feeding system, meaning I often switch it for another tower-style feeder depending on the weather, which gives me a chance to clean the feeder that is not being used. 

The letter "b" indicates my hopper-house-style feeder which has been featured in a number of posts here on Blogger and which was discussed in an entry on hometalk (HT).

The letter "c" indicates a small orange feeder, which is one that I have duplicates of, and you may recognize it as I've included pictures of it in a number of posts here on Blogger. I have duplicates of it so that I can I switch them out, using one while the other is being cleaned as mentioned in an HT entry about this particular feeder.

The letter "d" indicates a platform feeder. It has a canopy and although I've yet to discuss it in my blogging venues, you may view it and read a blurbs about it on TLLG's FB Page by clicking here as well as here and here.

What ALL of these feeders have in common is that they are designed to accommodate, and to please, the northern cardinal, and, since I've had a cardinal couple (Cam and Mac) visit my garden, and I am always on a mission to meet their needs. 

However, all of these feeders have ANOTHER thing in common: neither Cam or Mac will perch from them! Both of my visiting cardinals prefer to eat the seeds which fall to the surface of my garden, an occurrence that happens frequently because the small song birds (that eat from all of my feeders) toss (spit out) a number of seeds to the ground, which the cardinals enjoy eating . . . " 

(To read more on the aforementioned scenario, please refer to my HT post by clicking here.)

As you might surmise, dear reader, from the snippets (above) taken from my 8-22-13 HT posting, the increasing presence of pigeons in my garden, made me realize that my pole system was not the complete answer to my problem of how to feed my cardinals and song birds yet deter pigeons.

BTW, the circle in the image posted directly above this paragraph indicates a mourning dove — atop a feeder — in an attempt to rock it back and forth to spill seeds to the ground, which encouraged the pigeons to stick around and nosh in my garden.

And this is where Chris Baker (mentioned in today's title) comes (once again) into the solution of helping me to resolve my issues with mourning doves rocking feeders and spilling seeds to the ground causing pigeons and other unwanted creatures in my garden.

Chris Baker, as you may recall, is the birder extraordinaire who recommended what I have come to call my CB (rain) feeder, as discussed in posts that may be found by clicking here as well as here and here and here. For upon hearing my woes, Chris thought of a solution which was to add a seed hoop to the bottom of my aforementioned CB feeder and/or to my Hopper House feeder to catch the seeds.

I alluded to Chris's idea in the 8-22-13 HT posting and I included an image of the seed hoop's packaging in a subsequent post that I made on HT, which was published on 9-6-13. This image can be seen below:



The seed hoop was ultimately given to me by a colleague as a birthday gift, but I confess that I am holding off on using it under my Hopper House feeder (the type of feeder indicated on the packaging) until I get my pigeons to stop visiting.

For as you can see from the image above, the small songbirds gather on the hoop, which is fine, and would be my pleasure, except, prior to my receiving this product, I began to wonder this: What would stop the small birds from spilling seeds over the hoop, which would in turn continue to act as an invitation for pigeons to dine? 

Having made this realization, I was back to where I started with my quest re deterring pigeons, and the number of them hanging out in my garden was up to five pigeons.

A few photo-ops of them can be seen below.



In the image above, you can see one of my pigeons (lower righthand corner). He/she is atop a "dining" table in my garden waiting for a couple of house finches to spill seeds from the CB feeder (the cylinder shaped feeder which is directly above his/her head).

In the images below you can see that a pigeon is waiting atop the same "dining" table in my garden for the mourning dove to tip the feeder and "give" him/her seeds.




The latter of these pictures was featured with a blurb on TLLG's FB Page.

The waiting for morsels from a table top is harmless in and of itself, but the pigeons were destroying my ginger vine as well as my lavender and much of my kiwi vine's foliage as you might surmise from the images below, in spite of the innocent-who-me look in the latter of the  pictures.





All three of these images were featured with a narrative in my 9-6-13 post for hometalk.

And before I continue with my scenario of my attempts to find a solution for deterring pigeons in my garden whilst keeping the songbirds and cardinals coming, please let me clarify that I have nothing against pigeons per se. 

I just don't appreciate how invasive they can be in my garden, much in the same way that gardeners do not plant invasive flora. For I understand pigeons are living creatures too, but I am also aware of the fact that there are a number of places they can find food in NYC. 

Besides I was concerned that Cam and Mac, my cardinal couple, would no longer visit if they were intimidated by the pigeons (which is a concern I've addressed in previous posts on Blogger, including an entry which you may refer to by clicking here). After all, the image below shows how small Cam is in comparison to the foot of a pigeon!



Therefore, because my main mission has been to accommodate Cam, I contacted an organization known as People for the Preservation of Pigeons and I asked them the following:

"Please don't be annoyed with my question. I have a small urban garden (NYC) and for the past year northern cardinals have come here to eat. A few months ago the pigeon couple (who now bring a friend), pictured here, discovered my oasis and it seems the cardinals are intimidated by them, as they no longer come here. Do you now anything about the relationship of pigeons to cardinals?"

If you'd like to read the exchange I had with this organization, I've included it in my 9-6-13 post on hometalk

After my cyber-convos with People for the Preservation of Pigeons, I continued to look for solutions, which through much googling, led me to a NY Times article about D William MacLeod Greshin, whose name has been included in the title of today's blog entry. He is a high-end real estate broker, who, in terms of pigeons, was "dedicated to saving his feathered friends."

As I stated in my 9-6-13 entry on HT, I contacted D William, who was most gracious and willing to look into my problem. Moreover, he got back to me with concrete solutions that I've shared verbatim in the aforementioned entry on HT. It is something,dear reader, that you may want to refer to if you are an urban gardener with a similar issue re pigeons and songbirds that visit your garden.

Unfortunately I could not avail myself of D William's solutions because I am an all  thumbs gardener (and they aren't always green thumbs), but, dear reader, you are most likely more handy than I, and therefore, might be able to put his ideas into action.

I was now back to googling and that is where I came across someone named Sarah of Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan (WBU MID-MICH). 

I was familiar with the organization WBU because of their Saratoga affiliate. Moreover, I was familiar with the mid Michigan locale for they are the ones who responded to my query* when I thought Cam had been injured based on the photo of her posted below.



* My query had been this:

"This is a "copy" of what I just posted on CLO FB Page as well as TLLG's FB Page. I rarely duplicate content in my cyber venues but I am very concerned about this and am posting it in as many places as I can!


I heard Cam (my visiting female cardinal) early this morning and when I looked outside into my garden, she seemed a bit overwhelmed by the presence of three large pigeons chasing each other!

I think the pigeons are mating and I cannot seem to deter them from visiting my urban (NYC) garden!


There were also a number of mourning doves (which I think she is used to by now) visiting my garden and Cam disappeared before I blinked!

But she returned in the evening and I was able to take her picture! When I zoomed in on the photo I uploaded to my computer I thought I detected a hole near her eye! I've superimposed an arrow over the image so you could see what I am talking about."

Does it look like Cam was injured? And if so, do you know what might've caused this?"

It was WBU in mid Michigan that let me know, I was not seeing an injury near Cam's eye, rather, it was her ear. And referred they me to info that included this: 

"Q. Do birds have ears? A. Yes, they do! They're just hidden under feathers called auriculars that cover the ear openings on the sides of their head. Like humans, birds have an outer ear, a middle ear, and an inner ear. Feathers cover the ear opening to protect it and cut the wind noise. But if you ever see a bald bird (more common in Blue Jays and Northern Cardinals), you might have the opportunity to see their ear openings!"


Because WBU-Mid-Michigan had helped me with my query re Cam, and because I came across Sarah's name, I felt she might be able to help me resolve my pigeon issue; and, indeed, she was instrumental in what I hope will be my resolution.

Therefore Sarah is also mentioned in my title for today's post, for she spent time with me via the phone researching WBU affiliates who might be appropriate to deal with my issue. For it was Sarah's belief that a WBU affiliate who was familiar with my geographical area's "problem birds" (as a result of their particular locale) would be the ones who could offer me the best solution.

As it turns out the WBU affiliate closest to where I live in New York City is located in Paramus, New Jersey, an area that would be familiar with the need for deterring pigeons from visiting urban gardens.

On August 29th 2013*, I contacted the Paramus affiliate and I was connected to Susan Grimstead, who throughly listened to my concerns and asked that I email her pictures of the feeders I was using. She then responded by asking what type of seeds I was using as she felt that "sometimes changing the seeds can make a huge difference."*

[* Please note I will discuss the issues of bird seed, including Susan Grimstead's suggestions in a subsequent post.]

Once I sent her the requested info, Susan followed up immediately stating that "I will go over the situation with a couple other people here and will come up with some suggestions within a day or two."  

I am not a stickler for dates, but this one, August 29th 2013, I remember for it was the date I would be celebrating my birthday (belatedly) with friends and would ultimately have an accident (the accident I spoke about earlier in this post) from which I am still recovering!

Be that as it may, I hopefully will recover soon, but in the interuim I've heard back from Susan, procured her products and am experiencing some success with my bird feeding issues. I think this is worthy of sharing in the event others out there cyber-land are dealing with similar issues, or it may also be useful to anyone who is nterested in the plights of urban gardeners who feed birds.

The following is what Susan suggested. Upon evaluation of my materials and info received from consultations she had with others, the consensus was "that spillage is the primary issue."  

This was not surprising, but it was welcome news as it meant that I did not have to replace my feeders; rather, I could add "attachments" to my feeders, attachments which would catch the seeds. These would function much like the seed hoop I mentioned earlier in this post, but they would not be places birds ate directly from, which would reduce the seeds being spilled to my garden's surface.

The immediate solution while waiting for the products to arrive was to place empty clay pots below my feeders to catch the seeds. Pigeon deterring experts found that "pigeons would not generally fly into (clay) pots." 

However, my mourning doves did not concur with the pigeon experts' findings re flying into clay pots to get seeds, as evidenced by the photos posted below where the first image shows a "mourner" contemplating the seeds that had fallen into a pot, and the second image shows him/her going for them head first.




And the pigeons eyed the clay pots containing seeds, or rather, they eyed the seeds before they fell into the pot. But to my knowledge they never took a dive into a clay pot, as you might surmise from the image below, which was featured in an entry on TLLG's FB Page.



As for the type of "attachments" to my existing feeders that Susan suggested, I'll start with "the bronze tube feeder" as Susan calls it. This is the feeder I have come to call my "shine" feeder and have referred to earlier in this post, but to refresh your memory, it looks like this:




The latter re the images (above) of the house finches availing themselves of nourishment from the bronze tube (shine) feeder was included in a post on TLLG's FB Page this past August.

As for the following images of the shine feeder,




they illustrate the need for a solution to prevent mourning doves from toppling the feeder resulting in seed spillage. The latter of these two images was included in TLLG's FB posting on August 4th 2013.

In any event, Susan did have a solution for my problem, which was this: "a pigeon guard cage with 2" mesh that has a solid tray in the bottom to catch spillage." 

The following images show how this "device" looks on the shine feeder in my garden.





The three images above are details of how the device works with the shine feeder, as well as how a few finches adapted to it.

The three images below show how the feeder (with cage attachment) appears on the pole system in relation to some of my other feeders.





To the left of the shine feeder (and slightly behind it) is where I have hung my CB (or rain feeder), a feeder that I referred to early in this post and which, again to refresh your memory, looks like this:





And, as you can see, or as you might surmise from my writings on this feeder, some type of seed catcher was needed, and Susan suggested "the Seed Saucer product," saying, "the Seed Saucer, will work to catch falling seeds and keep the pigeons from eating on the ground. Seed Saucers hang under the feeder and have a mesh top to allow most of the seeds to fall out of the pigeons reach even if they land on it.  The seed hoops will not work because the pigeons will have access to any seed that is caught by them." 

The Seed Saucer that Susan is referring to can be seen in the images featuring my feeders with their new "attachments" (which are the three images directly above the two images featuring the CB feeder exclusively).

The attachment to my shine feeder was easy to figure out even for yours truly, who has confessed to being all thumbs that are not necessarily green. However, attaching the seed saucer to the CB feeder was a bit too difficult for me, even though Susan took the time to draw me a diagram as seen below.



Therefore I had to call upon Robert, the brother of Peggy (my editor and friend whom I mentioned earlier in this post) to help me assemble it. Hence I've included Robert's name in the title of today's entry.

As for the seed saucer, my finches are enjoying perching on (and posing from) its chain as you can see from the images below.





And the pigeons are trying to find a work round re accessing seeds from the seed saucer as you can surmise from the pictures below.






Because (at  the moment) the CB feeder with its seed saucer is in close proximity to the shine feeder in its cage; mourning doves have used the opportunity to alight upon the saucer and study the shine feeder as evidenced in the images below.






Seeing this caused me to think of the time my father died. The weather was very cold and folks were bringing dishes of food or bottles of vino as a way of offering support to his wife who  bemoaned the gestures wailing, "Where am I going to keep this crap?"

Her daughter suggested she put things on the porch as it was so cold nothing would spoil. My father's wife scoffed at the idea, complaining that "The birds would get into everything." 

"I don't think they can open the wine, ma," her daughter proclaimed.

It was at that very instant that the cuckoo clock went off, whistling, "Cuckoo, Cuckoo," in direct response to the silly conversation.

But maybe my father's wife's "fears" weren't so silly; after all, I wouldn't put it past my mourning doves to open a bottle of wine, or a Seed Saucer, a "device" they continue to study, or use as a place to perch and stare (leer) into a window to study the comings and goings of yours truly, as seen below.



The powers of observation the mourning doves have are something to behold as is their spirit of not being deterred by circumstances involving the procuring of food (seeds).

And speaking of seeds, as promised earlier in this entry, I will discuss what Susan has explained to me as well as what I have learned from my experiences in my next post on here Blogger. In my forthcoming entry I plan to include her suggestions for how I can make the best use of my Hopper House, platform and thistle feeders, all of which have been mentioned in this post, but are pictured below (respectively) for easy reference.





The Hopper House Feeder as well as the platform feeder were procured by yours truly as they were marketed as being ones cardinals would perch from. 

The feeder in the latter image, a thistle feeder, supposedly held the bragging rights of attracting smaller songbirds, which it did from time to time.

As you can see from all three of these pictures, mourning doves adapt easily to any feeder and even though certain feeders (because of their perch design) are "guaranteed" to attract cardinals, I have come to the conclusion that if visiting cardinals are not perchers, they will not perch, for, as "they" say, "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink." 

The same holds true (at least in my garden) where I've attempted to lead my cardinals to perch, but they still will (thus far) will only eat from my garden's surface.

But I hope with Susan's suggestions, I will be deterring pigeons and encouraging cardinals to eat from the safe perches I've provided. After all, I now have a concrete reason to believe this could happen, for Cam and Mac (my cardinal couple have had a son, Vincenzo, seen below, basking in the sun, on the day I discovered him in my garden.



Vincenzo has since been seen perching on my pole system,



and since perching is something I've never seen his parents do, perhaps a little child shall lead them?

In any event, whether I have feeding systems that are working or not, I pray my sweet visitors are safe from predators and I know in my heart that my visiting birds have their own feeding systems, as evident in the collage posted below:



The images in this collage truly illustrate the importance of serving others, my impetus for today's entry.

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