“My Mother Would Have Me Perform My Little Trick Whenever Relatives Would Come By For A Visit.”

Story by Al Batt (Author)

My favorite bird in the whole wide world is the Black-capped Chickadee. He is like the Dale Carnegie or the Zig Ziglar of the avian world. The chickadee has a positive attitude. Just like Mr. Carnegie, the chickadee makes friends and influences people. This tiny bird’s “chick-a-dee-dee” call is among the best motivational speeches I have ever heard. It begins singing “Spring’s here” when our long winter’s back is about to break.

It is amazing the power housed in my feathered friend. The chickadee sings and I feel wonderful. My admiration for the chickadee has been a lifelong one. When I was a boy, a teacher told me that chickadees could be fed by hand. Such information was instant inspiration for me. I immediately came up with a plan. We had a number of birdfeeders hanging from the various lilac bushes in our yard. I stacked a couple of straw bales near one of the feeder laden lilacs. I procured a pitchfork with a broken handle and impaled the tines into one of the straw bales so that it protruded from the straw at an angle perpendicular to the ground. On the end of this pitchfork handle, I secured a Handy Andy work glove with baling twine. We didn’t have any duct tape on the farm, but we had an abundance of baling twine. The yellow glove was situated like a man’s hand asking for a handout. Into this glove, I placed some of the chickadee’s favorite food-black oil sunflower seeds.

This job done, I retreated to the kitchen of our old farmhouse and waited. I took up sentry duty by the window over our kitchen sink. I didn’t have to wait long. The chickadees are a curious and a hungry bunch-just like my in-laws. The chickadees were the first to discover this new odd feeder. They visited often and regularly. Blue Jays and nuthatches also became regular customers. For two weeks I kept the gloved feeder filled. Then and only then was it time for my big experiment.

I would go outside and remove the straw bales. Then I would put the yellow Handy Andy glove on my grimy little hand. I would stand as still as possible, perfecting the ability that most men have of being able to do things without the necessity of having to think about anything. This comes in handy when our wives ask us what we are thinking about and we are truthfully able to reply, “Nothing.” I would stand for as long as it took. Sooner or later, the chickadees would come to feed from my gloved hand. They would come one at a time according to a determined pecking order. Occasionally, even a nuthatch would stop by for a snack. The chickadees were great to work with.

My mother would have me perform my little trick whenever relatives would come by for a visit. I’d stand outside until the chickadees arrived while my relatives would gather around the kitchen window and watch in amazement. My mother and my relatives were in agreement — I was a genius. That was the general consensus. That is, until my next report card arrived.

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