The only time I am welcome on my porch is when I put out food for my camp followers. Should I decide to sit down, I am assailed by disgusted chirps from a nearby tree. Or I find myself eye to eye with a hummingbird six inches from my face.
My breakfast and lunch crowd is mostly avian, with a few chipmunks here and there. Titmice, chickadees,house sparrows, cardinals- nothing exotic. Neighborhood birds that stay put throughout the year. White-throated sparrows from the north country visit in winter. Pugnacious little ruby-throated hummingbirds are here in the warm seasons, though they came to my feeder late this summer. I had put out a fancy feeder they refused to visit. When I brought back the red plastic one they returned.
Bad manners are rampant with my day crowd. They are messy eaters. They toss seeds they do not want onto my outdoor rug, and the titmice leave heaps of sunflower seed hulls for me to sweep up. I wish they would take a lesson from the chipmunks, who stuff their cheeks with peanuts then dash off. Some birds do try to help me clean up- the towhees, carolina wrens, and mourning doves peck at the debris kicked off the feeder.
The chipmunks do not appear everyday, for there is a gray-striped cat making rounds. Perhaps the cat is the reason for the tail-lessness of several of my clientele. There is one chipmunk who lost his somewhere, and a carolina wren who barely escaped someone's jaws.
My most popular daytime entree is the peanut. Blue jays will not come for anything else. I wish I could put out a bag a day, but peanuts are expensive, and I ration them. I have tried putting out stale bread, but my birds ignore it. They leave it for the after dark crowd who arrive earlier and earlier as fall comes.
The supper club is purely four-legged. A baby raccoon, a baby possum, two adult possums, three older raccoons.( Fortunately the skunks have stayed away.) One of the big possums has a head that is as large as the rest of his body. I call him "Roman Nose". The raccoons I call the "Brothers", because of their squabbling. One of the brothers, not willing to share, parks himself on top of the dogfood I put out in a pyrex dish. He shovels the food out from under him, and snaps at his siblings. I am happy that all these coons can fit through the porch railings. A fat one came earlier this summer, and smashed several planters when he came in over the top. He also drank all the syrup out of my hummingbird feeder ,and tore up my coralita vine. I have not seen him lately.
They may fight amongst themselves, but the coons are gracious towards the possums. I have seen them eating side by side on many occasions. The possum will sometimes bare its teeth, but this seems mostly for show.
None of them blink when the Shih Tzu yaps at them and scratches at the door. They do scatter if the beagle howls, but he rarely does, since they are not rabbits. And they leave as I open the door to put out more food. Some do not go far. I hear them rustling under the holly hedge. They want to have the first bite. I might have put out a bowl of leftovers. Or lamb chop bones. Or an over ripe nectarine. When a possum finds fruit he runs off the porch with it.
Thousands of years ago a woman threw a bone to a wolf. The wolf took the bone and became a dog and we became his slave. All because we like to feed wild animals, Humans even feed alligators, a practice dangerous to both parties-
I love to watch the birds. I love watching the baby possum try to get his mouth around a peach. I love to see Popette sitting at the door waiting for our first night visitor. I love seeing how many peanuts a chipmunk can stuff inside his cheeks.
At least until a skunk comes. Then my diner will only serve birds.