Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Feeding a Few Close Friends

by Pa Rock
Nature Lover

I have written about Bob the Grackle in this space before, at least I think that I have.  Bob and I became friends when I was working at Luke Air Force Base between 2007 and 2010.  Each morning I would drive through the McDonald’s located next door to the base and purchase my breakfast – a sausage-egg McMuffin and a large, unsweetened iced-tea.  I would take the sandwich to base where I would sit in the car eating and reading until time to go in for work.  There were always a few nosey grackles close by taking note of any activity and looking for a handout.  Gradually I began pulling off pinches of the sandwich and throwing it to them.  I became very popular among the desert birds.

Grackles, which closely resemble crows and blackbirds, are extremely smart.  One grackle, whom I named “Bob,” soon figured out my routine and was always quick to drop by whenever I would pull into the parking lot.  Eventually he would keep an eye on the base gate until he spotted my car, and the fly along and accompany me to the parking lot.  We became great friends.

Bob and I never reconnected after I returned from Okinawa in the summer of 2012.  I had a different car by that time, one that Bob would not have known, and he had probably moved on to greener pastures – or browner desert.  But I kept buying those sausage-egg McMuffins and sharing with whatever birds showed up.  This time there was more variety.  In addition to the ubiquitous grackles, the breakfast gang included little desert wrens, Gambles quail, and even the occasional woodpecker.

A few months after I returned, I was diagnosed with clogged arteries and had to quit eating those wonderful McMuffins.  My new breakfast meal consisted of unsweetened oatmeal and unsweetened iced tea.   The birds showed up for a few days before giving up on me and disappearing to track down breakfast elsewhere.

I began to eat an apple every day as a nutritional snack – anything to keep those greedy doctors away!

There is a large cactus outside of the building where I work.  It is one of those ground-cover varieties that takes in about 400 square feet and is six feet tall at its center.  That cactus is full of small desert cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus Audubonii).  I quickly figured out that if I threw my apple core up close to the big cactus, a group of hungry little bunnies would soon descend on it. 

Now I feed the rabbits every day that I am work.  It is good for them, and it is certainly good for me – nutritionally and psychologically.  The rabbits aren’t as bright as Bob, but they enjoy being fed and they are fun to watch.

I am going to have such a great time on the farm!

No comments: