COUNTRY ECHOES


| March/April 1977



R. R. 2, Brandon, Wisconsin 53919

Winter set in very early in Wisconsin, and at this writing seems quite irreversible. We have already had several below zero days as December begins.

The bird feeder needs constant refilling, and Joe's metal bird bath has a white cap before winter has even showed on the calendar. Long before Christmas our chipper cardinal was presenting himself daily as a creature both of Holiday brightness but also natural instincts. He needs to eat to live.

Yesterday morning, when I ambled to the kitchen to start breakfast for my husband and myself, I was greeted by the sight of five Bluejays battling over their share of our varied assortment of 'bird breakfast.' Each one of the five were trying to play 'KING ON THE HILL.' Some finally settled for the crumbs which fell from the victor's table. And then a surprising thing happened. With the accuracy of a guided missile in zoomed a Ladder-backed or Red-Bellied Woodpecker. All my scrapping Bluejays fled as though Mr. Woodpecker was 'the Menace from Venice.' (Oh dear! The poetry is coming out in me again.)

My blue callers didn't give up easily, however. They would attempt to peer over the edge of the feeder. But one threat from that strong bill of his sent them flying back to the safety of their separate limbs in a nearby tree. When Mr. Ladder-Back left, back flocked all the Bluejays, a Nuthatch or two, some Juncos, the Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, and our beautiful lone Cardinal. Last winter we had a couple of females who came along. Maye they have gone in for Women's Lib and are too independent now. The Sparrows, of course, come in droves.

Right there the Bluejays became the rulers again and all the smaller, flitty birds settled for the crumbs from the coveted table. It was a constant panorama of power and submission, and it was a good Sunday morning sermon. I came to the conclusion they are so very much like humans humans who are trying to rule others, and others who have to be content with crumbs.