One retired mother in a quaint seaside village in Connecticut spent her December weekends waiting in line at the post office to send bird feeders, seed towers, and other accoutrement of birdscaping to her three children, each of whom live in a large city occupied by pigeons.
“They’ve done studies in Europe saying people are happier interacting with numerous bird species in their daily life,” said Evelyn Schwartz, 62, of Old Saybrook. “And I just want my children to be happy. Look, I got them each a copy of Sibley’s Guide to Birds, so they’ll know the names of all their new friends.”
Kendra, the eldest, who lives in Brooklyn, received a birdbath from her mother. “I’ve been working from home during the shutdown so it was a nice idea,” she said, staring out her thirteenth-floor window, which faces the wall on the other side of her thirty-story building. “But where am I supposed to put this? I left the bowl on the fire escape, but rats found it and drank the water before any birds came. I couldn’t stop them; I was on a Zoom.” She stared forlornly at the neighboring window across from her, where a similarly aged woman stared back. “Wait, how did rats get to the thirteenth floor?”
Nathan — currently finishing a grad program in economics at Boston University — lives in a basement apartment. He received a birdfeeder from his mom. “I left it on the ground, right outside my windows.” As of press time, Nathan’s feeder has fallen into disuse. “One of the neighbors I guess was drunk and didn’t realize someone lives down these stairs. He peed on it.” Both birds and other wildlife have avoided the newly salted nuts.
Ross Schwartz — Evelyn’s youngest — is a UPenn drop-out currently working as a no-contact delivery driver in the City of Brotherly Love. Ross sold his birdhouse on Craigslist but told Evelyn that the package must have been stolen off his doorstep. Ross loves the book though: “I just don’t have money to spend on toilet paper right now.”
Nathan rests his laptop on his Sibley’s: “This angle is so much better for my wrists.” And Kendra has found a unique way to give back to the community: “The building management won’t shell out to fix the laundry door, so it always gets stuck. The Sibley’s is hefty enough to prop the door open.” Sometimes Kendra flips through the pictures while her dryer winds down. “I haven’t been outside since October.”
“It’s just so important to commune with nature,” said Evelyn, as a Red-breasted Nuthatch flapped a Dark-Eyed Junco from the perch, to nibble at a tower of sorghum and millet. In the distance, where her yard meets forest, two baby deer looked cautiously from the shadows. “I’m just so glad my kids are happy.”