For the birds (but mostly for me)

I didn't ask him to make me bird feeder. What I said was, "all I want for my birthday is a bird feeder". I didn't specify a beautiful handmade bird feeder.

We live in the woods. There is a small clearing around our house but otherwise we are surrounded by trees, deciduous and evergreens. And of course the river down in the valley which we can hear from our yard, rushing to the sea. 

There is a lot of wildlife in these woods, birds being the one species we see and hear the most of.

I have always wanted a bird feeder. When we lived in Maine I worked hard to create an urban oasis. I wanted to add a bird feeder but but there was no easy place to do so that was visible from our main living windows. I don't just want to feed the birds, I want to watch them come and go. I wanted the antics of birds to be a part of my life.

When we moved to our house this summer I knew this was the place for a bird feeder. There is a plethora of wildlife in our neighborhood. Why not invite them nearer?

Our dining, kitchen and living room windows look out onto the yard and the valley below and the small mountains on the other side of the river. Right off this main living area there is a deck (another thing I've always wanted) where a bird feeder could easily be installed.

I am watching the birds as I type this. Watching them land, sometimes three or four at a time, to eat the black sunflower seeds they love best. They are beautiful and sweet all at the same time. They make me smile every time I watch them, which is often these days.

This is what I wanted for my birthday. More nature in my life. And he gave it to me. He made it for me.

He looked for a feeder at the local hardware store. There were no nice feeders to be found. In doing more research he realized nice bird feeders were out of our very tight November budget. But wood, he could get some of that for free.

So he did. And instead of spending money we didn't have, he spent his time, which is just as precious in our household economy.

He had one type of wood to use. Free finds are like that - you take what you get. Using his engineer's brain and a hand miter saw he designed and constructed my birthday present. A couple miscellaneous hardware pieces were purchased and the kids helped varnish it.

I knew what we was doing. I don't like surprises so it wasn't like he was keeping the project a secret. (Don't even ask about the time, in our first or second year of marriage, when he planned a surprise birthday party for me. Let's just say he won't ever do that again.) But the feeder itself I didn't see till my birthday morning.

This feeder is an upgrade from the temporary structure Laurent built earlier this fall when he heard my birthday request. Around that time a few birds had started landing on our deck railing. His little improvised feeder fed those few birds and more.

I can't bear to take down his handiwork. Roped as it is to the railings, complete with chopstick supports and craft string construction.

Damien is an engineer, Laurent is an artist and naturalist. Laurent added the branches to Damien's bird feeder because the chickadees and nuthatches who feed here are perching birds and Laurent knew the branches would make them feel more comfortable. Not to mention add aesthetic appeal and visual contrast to the straight lines of the well engineered feeder.

They made this for me. For my birthday.

I am a blessed woman, living where I do with these people I love so dearly. My family who brings me the most joy in my life. And of course the birds.

« My Birthday
Q & A Tuesday ~ The Answers »
  • Melissa

    Melissa on Dec. 10, 2012, 4:36 p.m.

    That is a lovely gift.

    We too have birds...we keep it on the simple side, in terms of feeders...a couple of suet cages (with homemade suet cakes) for the downy and hairy woodpeckers (chickadees and nuthatches like them too but the woodpeckers take over when they're around), a simple diy platform feeder for the chickadees etc., and an unused turkey stuffing bag filled with nyger for the american goldfinches (when they aren't parked at the platform feeder). The birds don't need fancy, but it certainly helps our enjoyment when they can visit from a shelter created by love.


    • renee

      renee on Dec. 10, 2012, 4:59 p.m.

      The kids and I have made simple feeders in the past, somewhat similar to what you describe. But they didn't always attract many birds. Probably was the environment more than the feeder. What I wanted for my birthday was a feeder I didn't have to think, plan or make. I would have been happy with suet hanging from the trees but Damien went with this route and I'm just as happy with this (smile).


      • Melissa

        Melissa on Dec. 11, 2012, 7:35 p.m.

        I meant to suggest...did I read that you are eating eggs...frittatas? If you are, the sanitized, crushed eggshells will be welcome on the feeder as well...grit will be hard to find under the snow, and in the spring the calcium will be appreciated by the females...


        • renee

          renee on Dec. 11, 2012, 7:40 p.m.

          Yes, once a week we eat eggs as our easy Friday night meal. That's a great idea! Thank you! I never would have thought to do that. I've been just adding them to our compost. But I'd rather feed the birds!


  • Christi {Jealous Hands}

    Christi {Jealous Hands} on Dec. 10, 2012, 5:01 p.m.

    It is beautiful, as is Laurent's! We love watching birds here, too; I never tire of it. And how wonderfully thoughtful & observant of Laurent to add the branches! I'm sure you will enjoy it so much during the winter. xo


  • Lisa

    Lisa on Dec. 10, 2012, 5:25 p.m.

    Beautiful, and for me being handmade makes it even more special. And I love Laurent's addition of the branches to it. Lovely!


  • se7en

    se7en on Dec. 10, 2012, 5:45 p.m.

    That's stunning... we are also always in the know about gifts!!! None of us can keep a good secret and none of us enjoy a surprise... so if we gift it each other it is right out in the open... then everyone knows what to expect and nobody stresses about "Will they like it or not!!" It definitely works for us!!!


  • Sarah M

    Sarah M on Dec. 10, 2012, 8:26 p.m.

    I love how you explained a little bit of their personalities, and how they used their own talents while making you something you wanted and that is truly special. What a sweet thing. Sarah M


  • Blikken doos

    Blikken doos on Dec. 10, 2012, 8:31 p.m.

    I love this post. I read your blog daily and though it is a far away world for me (we live in Belgium, urban area, far from nature and home schooling), I'm touched by the warmth you have put in this post. Thanks for sharing!


  • Kim

    Kim on Dec. 11, 2012, 2:17 a.m.

    We love birds here and are feeding them all the time. Your feeder is lovely and made with so much love.

    We have a special little place not too far from our home where the birds eat right out of your hand. We have had chickadees, nuthatches and woodpeckers land and eat...totally amazing!! My little man loves that the chipmunks will come right up for a snack too.

    Enjoy bird watching.


    • renee

      renee on Dec. 11, 2012, 12:29 p.m.

      That's cool. The birds will eat out of our hands here also if we're patient enough and if there isn't feed elsewhere for them. And in the national park where we hike often the gray jays are notorious from-the-hand feeders.


  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Dec. 15, 2012, 1:36 a.m.

    I love the birds too! At our old house we had so many, hoping that someday we can have that again.

    I especially loved the way the chickadees would sing to me when I came and went (or so it seemed).


  • Beth Wagenius

    Beth Wagenius on Dec. 15, 2012, 3:22 p.m.

    I'm so behind on reading my blogs. But this one caught my eye. I love the birds too. I call them my pets. :) Tim has a dog and I have the birds that visit my feeder. I love them so much I make birdhouses and such as a hobby. What a fun post.


  • Karen from CT

    Karen from CT on Dec. 21, 2012, 3:49 a.m.

    What a great birthday present and I totally love the feeder Laurent made! Great job-must try to recreate that myself. Happy Holidays to all of you.


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