Shelter-in-place happened too quickly and coincided with my tooth extraction. We had no time to stock up our bird seeds. Around the end of March, when the lockdown dates got extended, we felt we should order some bird food online for our rooftop party.
We happily bought a 10-lb bag of deluxe blend without reading the one-star reviews. Why would we need to do that when 81% of more than 2,800 people had given it five-star reviews and 11% four-star reviews?
The House Finches were always chatty, but as soon as we started with the new blend, I had a hunch they were gossiping about me.
Lady with a bad taste in clothing now feeds us with such disgusting food. Bad taste! Does she even know what she is offering? Let’s kick them off to the ground so she gets the hint! Argh.
Indeed, I did not know what I was offering. Safflower Seed and Milo are the two items on the list that seem unfamiliar. In Singapore (where I grew up), Safflower is a healthier choice of cooking oil, and Milo is a nutritious chocolate and malt drink.
It took some online research to learn that Milo, also known as Sorghum, is the reddish round seed that most birds dislike.
As a matter of fact, not just Milo, Cracked Corn and White Millet are not “readily eaten” as advertised on the back of the deluxe blend.
To be sure that “most birds” dislike it, I poured the unwanted pile into a green plate and left it on the side. True enough, all our feathered friends detest it. The Dark-eyed Juncos kicked the pile like the House Finches.
The California Scrub-jays did not even come close to the green plate. They shriek and pick up only the sunflower seeds from the frying pan.
Then, came the Rock Pigeons.
The first sight of a Rock Pigeon was quite a delight. Finally, someone who would clear the Milo (and everything) on the ground. Social distancing was well practised — the Rock Pigeon would let the House Finch finish his food.
I thought that was the end of my problem.
No, it was the beginning of another problem. The Rock Pigeon called on a friend, and the two of them would squeeze and hog up the frying pan. That was before the third one came, sashaying from the neighbour’s roof.
I couldn’t hear the House Finches gossip anymore — they are not even around. Every morning, I hear a loud flutter of wings instead of a cheery tune. That is when I know the Rock Pigeon gang is here, and in a few minutes, I will have to clear their large watery poop.
In a scoop of the deluxe blend, Nyjer Seed — the caviar of bird seeds — is almost non-existence. Peanut Kernel and Safflower Seed are barely noticeable.
Out of curiosity, I created a makeshift sieve by cutting holes out of the lid of a yoghurt tub with a pen cutter.
Upon eliminating what the birds don’t fancy, I was surprised to find wood shreds and tiny unidentifiable particles apart from Black Oil and Striped Sunflower Seeds.
What exactly did we buy?
I revisited our online purchase and read the one-star reviews of the deluxe blend. I had a good laugh. People who were baffled by the bird rejection shared my sentiments. Had we read these reviews in the beginning, would we have taken their word for it? I wonder.
We bought the most valuable lesson to bird feeding fundamentals.
“The key to successful bird feeding is offering the right food for the birds you want to attract.”
Wagner’s Deluxe Blend Bird Food
Will I purchase ten pounds of the deluxe blend again?
No. It is more costly than getting the same amount of pure Sunflower Seeds.
In the eyes of the birds, I’m just a stupid human who is out of my mind.
To make it up to the absent birds, it is my turn to separate the desired 20% out of the deluxe blend. Perhaps the act of such a laborious task might trigger a connection with the pigeons — something Tesla, Picasso and Dvořák see that I have yet to discover.
But before that, I have requested for a Super Soaker to tackle the congregation of Rock Pigeons — I have seen at least ten of them in the last three days.
I miss my old gang and hope they will return soon.