Saturday, March 7, 2009


Icterids. I can’t stand them. They aren’t around all the time but, when they come, they come in droves and hang around for seasons that are entirely too long. Noisy, squawking, voracious, devouring, flying creatures that flaunt their physical size, exercise their mass supremacy, overrun our feeders, and deprive our small, musical, beautiful feathered guests of the food that we supply them.

They empty our feeders in a matter of minutes, leaving not so much as a grain for the other birds. Once they’ve devoured everything in sight they sit high in the tops of the trees squawking their coarse and grating notes. It’s as though they are demanding that I refill the feeders at their command.

I can’t shoot them. Oh, there was a day! The noise of a gun would frighten away the gentle ones that our feeders attract. Plus, we have too many close neighbors that wouldn’t appreciate low flying projectiles buzzing through their yards.

Shooting Icterids is a hopeless resort even if it does provide a momentary sense of personal gratification. They just keep coming, drove after squawking, migrating drove. I know a man that finally quit feeding the birds. He grew weary of replacing his feeders after destroying them year after year with rifle bullets.

When the Icterids are around it costs more to feed the other birds. I keep feeding. At least the more important birds have an opportunity to scrounge for a grain or two of sustenance.

I’ve not learned to live with Icterids. That would indicate certain depths of acceptance, degrees of co-existence, places I’m not willing to go. But I live with them, nonetheless, in a relationship that will ever and always be an adversarial one. Yes. They, too, are God’s creatures.

So are mosquitoes and fleas. Pit vipers and Brown Recluse spiders.