Friday, January 17, 2020

The Birdman Chronicles

The first Bird Man Feeder (Model 2000-1) was built out of 4 inch sewer pipe. The head unscrewed and seed was poured in to fill the arms right down to the carved wooden hands. Bird Man Model 2000-1 held about 30 pounds of sunflower seed. The Bird Man swiveled with the wind so that the birds could land into the wind as they prefer to do. We had all kinds of birds visit the Bird Man! Chickadees, cardinals, crossbills, nuthatches, woodpeckers... all kinds of birds.

If you dress in the same colour of coat and stand beside the Bird Man, birds will land all over you and feed from you hand. I have even had a woodpecker feed from my hand.  The hope is that anyone who experiences the simple joy of sharing with the birds will be better able to appreciate the beauty and importance of nature. In the accompanying picture, I'm the one on the right- your right.

Sadly, Bird Man Feeder (Model 2000-1) stayed with Watershed Farm north of Hammertown on the very crest of the Oak Ridges Moraine. I am not certain what happened too him.

Plans for the 2020 rebirth of the Birdman were sparked during a Christmas walk through the Singleton forest during Christmas. A flock of friendly chickadees swooped in on us a couple of times. Once the small flock landed on my head, shoulders and outstretched hands. I wanted to feel that again and share the experience with the next generations. I also thought that I could build a better Birdman.

Birdman 2020-1 was constructed out of 3 inch pipe. I did a better job carving the hands and used worn out leather gloves to give the birds the feel of skin when they landed. The  3 inch pipe might be better for the flow of smaller seeds like niger and millet but the larger sunflower seeds really needs the four inch pipe to flow. The Birdman 2020-1 is pictured. The pants are on back order and there is still some tweaking to do.
Birdman 2020- 2 using 4 inch pipe is under construction.

The first more famous Birdman was probably Saint Francis of Assisi (1181/1182 – 3 October 1226). Saint Francis was an Italian Catholic friar, deacon and preacher. The story of Saint Francis is probably even more relevant today. Francis preached the Christian doctrine that the world was created good and beautiful by God but suffered a need for redemption because of human sin. He believed that people have a duty to protect and enjoy nature as both the stewards of God's creation and as creatures ourselves. Many of the stories that surround the life of Saint Francis say that he had a great love for animals and the environment.

There are many Saint Francis legends and some might even be true. One tells of travelling along a road where birds filled the trees on either side. Francis told his companions to "wait for me while I go to preach to my sisters the birds." The birds surrounded him perhaps intrigued by the power of his voice and apparently not one of them flew away. Saint Francis of Assisi is often portrayed with a birds flocking around him.

There is something almost mystical about bird encounters such as this. The Birdman should make it possible for a few more to feel like Saint Francis of Assisi if only for a little while.