Guerilla Bird Feeders

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Photo by MICHAEL MURPHY on Unsplash

I miss having a bird feeder. The HOA in the community where I live doesn’t allow them. They are fixated on keeping the neighborhood neat and clean, so messy things like bird feeders and vegetable gardens are not allowed.

I have always been a rebel. The minute that you tell me that I can’t do something, I have to figure out a way to do it without directly violating the rules prohibiting it. I used my knowledge of gardening and birds and came up with what I call Guerilla Bird Feeders, flowers that look pretty but whose main purpose is to feed birds.

First, I planted a big clump of Echinacea by my front door. I’m a Master Gardener who specializes in growing herbs so it’s Echinacea to me but you know them as purple coneflowers. When the flowers die and the remaining cones turn an ugly black, goldfinches flock to them. They perch precariously on top of the cones and reach down to pick out the seeds, one by one. It’s a delicate balancing act for me. Keep the dead and dying cones long enough to feed the goldfinches but not long enough to attract the attention of the HOA who will fine me for leaving dead plants in my garden. Yes, there are rules about that.

After the Echinacea has finished, the zinnias burst into bloom. I love zinnias. They were the first flower I ever grew when I was a child. Burpee had just released its first green zinnia called Envy. I was fascinated by the concept of green flowers so that was what I chose for my first garden. I’m still fascinated by green flowers and I still grow green zinnias, as well as other colors.

I discovered by accident that hummingbirds love them. At my previous house, where I maintained different types of bird feeders, I tried for years to attract hummingbirds. I had a red hummingbird feeder filled with my homemade sugar water that was precisely formulated to meet the dietary needs of these flying jewels. It was surrounded by every red flower imaginable but all that I ever attracted were ants.

When I moved to a townhouse, I ripped out the ugly shrubbery in front and replaced it with colorful flowers, including my beloved zinnias. Imagine my surprise one day when I glanced out of the window and saw a hummingbird sampling the zinnias. A little research revealed that hummingbirds love zinnias as much as I do, just for different reasons. My garden is tiny. There isn’t enough space to grow everything I like at once so I have to rotate different flowers every year. I always include zinnias to feed the hummingbirds.

You know what? The handbook spelling out all the arcane rules imposed by the HOA doesn’t say anything about birdbaths. I love birdbaths almost as much as I love birdfeeders. At my previous home, I had one in a shady corner of the backyard. It was enormously popular. Birds would line up on the ugly chain link fence, waiting their turn to use it. Large birds first, then the smaller ones. I could always tell when the weather was scorching hot just by looking out the window and checking the birdbath. On those days, the pecking order broke down and birds, large and small, splashed around in the water together.

My current backyard faces north so it is shady most of the day, perfect for a birdbath. I’m sure that the HOA would hate it so of course I have to have one.

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Top Writer in Politics and Government. I always speak my mind.

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