Big excitement in my household this morning.


I live on the fourth floor of an apartment building in the city. It’s not Manhattan, but there’s more concrete around than grass or trees.

After I got a kitten a few months ago, I had the idea of putting up a window bird feeder so that my cat could be entertained by birds at the window. (The only thing below the window in question is a roof a couple of stories down; there’s no risk that the bird feeder will come loose and fall four stories onto the head of an unsuspecting passerby strolling down the sidewalk).

I knew it was a long shot that any birds would use my feeder–I thought at most a few seagulls might dive-bomb the window–but I decided it was worth a try.

It took a bit of work. I had to find a bird feeder that would attach to the window with suction cups but that wouldn’t look too terrible stuck there, disrupting the view.

Then I needed food. My neighborhood pet store had only two options: a huge, expensive bag of bird seed and a small, cheap block of suet with bird seed scattered through it. Of course, I went with the cheaper option.

I knew on some level that “suet” equals “animal fat” but it looked inoffensive in the package, so I was unprepared for the horror that awaited me when I opened it. Not only was bird seed scattered through the suet, but glistening caterpillars and plump grubs were also implanted throughout  the waxy lump.

I persevered, trying to wedge the larvae-crusted suet chunk securely inside the bird feeder, all the while leaving greasy smears of suet all over my apartment and the feeder. I quickly realized, however, that I couldn’t stick a chunk of fat to the outside of my west-facing window in the summer: it would soon turn into a stinking, rancid mess. So I threw the whole mess out, ran the bird feeder through the dishwasher, and bought a bag of bird seed.

Months went by, and nothing disturbed my bird feeder. Last week, I thought it was probably time to give up and take it down.

And then, this morning, my husband called me into the living room with a level of excitement in his voice that is literally unprecedented in the time I’ve known him. I knew immediately what was up.


Sure enough, there was a small brown bird sitting on the windowsill. It flew away, but it has already been back to peck at the seed.

I feel triumphant. My theory is that all it takes is one–that little bird is probably now telling all of the birds it knows about a great food source, and word will spread like wildfire through the urban bird community.


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