The Suitcase Lady


May 29, 2007, 10:44 pm

Everybody pretty much agrees that feeding birds is a good thing. Feeding raccoons and other wildlife is generally frowned on. Try telling this to the raccoons.

My husband and I run The Tooley Cafe in our backyard. Dress code is feathers or fur. We absolutely do not practice discrimination; everyone is welcome.

The first guests arrive just before daybreak. Thirty-six species of birds enjoy our hospitality. Jays, cardinals, finches, sparrows, grosbeaks, woodpeckers, wild turkeys, the list goes on and on. I must admit to cringing when a cowbird comes to snack. But our seeds are not just for the meek and the beautiful.

Our most unusual visitor is a handsome black, white and rust colored bird. When our trusty “Birds of Wisconsin” book failed to provide an ID, we consulted an ornithologist at the Milwaukee Museum. He informed us the bird is a Varied Thrush whose habitat is the Pacific Northwest, although “a few turn up in Wisconsin”. Ours has turned up three years in a row. Guess he likes the menu.

In the mammal dept., the chipmunks scamper back and forth with bulging cheeks. Occasionally, one squeezes into the feeder and gorges. It’s hilarious to look at your birdfeeder and see a chipmunk staring back from behind the glass! The red and gray squirrels also cart off carloads of seeds every day, while the old groundhog steadfastly munches away.

Dusk brings the onset of the evening guests. A raccoon will climb a branch to the tray feeder and shake down about $15 worth of oiled sunflower seeds to his cohorts below. Skittish deer and rabbits take quick bites from the birds’ corn pile. Opossums soon join in the feast, and the party keeps on until dawn.

We certainly have no need for a television. There’s a 24 hour show right outside our windows. And sunflower seeds are definitely cheaper than plasma. Click on the picture to see guests.

2 Comments for this entry

  • Mara

    Love your writing, I really enjoy it. I passed it on to some of my, well now, former co-workers, they said they enjoyed it too…
    Wish I could be at The Tooley Cafe just to fell welcome… :-)

  • Mara

    I was there and saw it with my own eyes! It’s wonderful!! Loved the experience!
    Thanks Mary!