The weather bureau tells us that a winter storm is on the way. But the birds in the backyard need no computer come to tell them the weather is changing. They can see the heavy leaden skies, feel the moisture in the air and note, directly in their being, the falling air pressure as the storm approaches. The House Finches, House Sparrows, Goldfinches are all busy this morning. The backyard is a riot of bird calls, bird flight, and birds eating. It is not as calm out there as it was yesterday morning. It is a little frantic. Something is up; they know it, and they feed against the morrow.
We wonder if the non-migrant birds, like people, don’t get just a little crazy this time of year. The clouds, the cold weather, the long nights; all add up to “Winters of Discontent.” It would, for instance, be interesting to go back through history, isolating when national leaders made decisions to start wars and see if the majority of such decisions were not made in the four months astride the Winter Solstice. Science tells us — beyond doubt — that humans are more depressed and more susceptible to really serious depressions in winter. In mythology those four months are always the time of waiting, of despair.
We should demand a moratorium on all important decisions of state during this time. Send our leaders south for the winter if they must be busy but, better yet, send them home and not allow them to make a single decision. The decline in sunlight contributes to a decline in sanity for most people. Better to feed against the darkness and the cold and the snow and wait for better days and softer climes to make big decisions. We could learn from our avian friends who mainly sleep and eat during winter. Not for them, the life changing decisions; not for them the long trips through the night. Their wisdom is to hunker down and wait for better days.
Which is our subtle way of reminding everyone in the Northern Hemisphere to be sure there is plenty of high quality seed on hand and in your feeders, that suet cakes are out and that your avian guests have plenty of water. It’s cold out there.