Sacrifices — Big and Small

I pulled into the driveway, opened the car door and that’s when I heard the commotion. A number of small birds that regularly visited the bird feeder were in a bit of a caterwalling frenzy. I turned toward the feeder and realized the object of the distressing bird sounds.

A large, red-headed woodpecker had managed to cling to the side of the tubular bird feeder hanging from a shepherd’s hook in the yard. His acrobatic technique of holding on while gorging himself on seeds was something to see. He was indeed a thing of beauty. Yet his presence was creating a stir among the smaller, intimidated birds of the air. They waited on the electric line nearby, squawking their disapproval of their nemesis and the loss of their dinner.

I had seen him or one of his relatives visiting the suet cakes I had placed in one of those cage feeders in a nearby tree over the winter months. The woodpeckers delighted in that fat-seed combination of food and, thus, kept away from the pole feeder that fed many of the smaller, wild birds. However, a feisty squirrel managed to maneuver the suet cage in the tree to afford him carte blanche at feasting on the rich fat and seeds. After several attempts to outwit the squirrel, I gave up on the suet feeder, relenting to the wiser rodent. Now I must rethink the process to keep all of our fowl friends content.

And then there’s the hummingbirds. These amazing tiny creatures have been a source of entertainment in our yard each year from April until the first frost of fall. Taking care with their feeding arrangement also has been a challenge. I have figured out some ways to keep the ants from climbing up the pole and invading the hummingbird feeder, but the bees are another issue. Those insects love that sweet nectar that I brew from water and plain white sugar. I store it in the fridge to keep it fresh until it’s needed. It’s a lot of work to keep the hummingbird feeder scrubbed clean of mold and refilled as needed, but the resulting pleasure from watching these gifts of nature is well worth the effort.

So we have to sweep up the seeds and shells the birds leave behind, and sometimes the ants win out. But the little things, the sacrifices big and small in life, are what make the rewards that much sweeter.

This weekend is a good time to remind one another of the sacrifices that have been made to make this country so rich in freedoms, clean water, plenty of food, the right to pray when and where we want, the opportunities for education and so much more. We have our flaws and annoyances in this country for sure. Lately, there have been so many political distractions that many have lost sight of what we do have.

I remember and appreciate those who have helped us get to where we are. I never take them for granted. Honor them this weekend and feel good about where you can sit and watch the birds. Many others aren’t that lucky.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at


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