68 birdwatchersdigest.com • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER ’ 17 • BIRD WATCHER’S DIGEST
bear will get its paws on this baby,
I thought smugly the next day, as
I ran a steel cable from my roof to
the trunk of a large red pine. With
the cable in place, I climbed to the
top of a stepladder and affixed
the feeder about midway along
it. I got out my tape measure and
measured: nine feet and a few
inches. We’d have to crane our
necks a bit to see the birds, but
at least I’d have peace of mind.
A bipedal grizzly could grab it, I
reasoned—or maybe a black bear
waving a cane. But if either of
those things happened, I’d have
bigger problems on my hands
than broken bird feeders.
The birds loved the new feeder.
They flitted about it madly for a
month, with some waiting patiently on the steel cable for the slight-est vacancy. With such a birdy
bonanza, I didn’t even bother with
But a month of bounty was
all I got. Much like the previous fall, I awoke one morning in
June to a scene of utter carnage.
My feeder, my slightly garish,
gabled, hexagonal feeder with a
gazebo motif, lay scattered on
the ground like roadkill picked
apart by scavengers. Impulsively,
I ran out to it. The Plexiglas
was punctured in four places
spaced equally apart. Again,
plastic shards adorned the lawn
like party confetti. Other shards
formed a Hansel-and-Gretel trail
through the yard, the last piece
lying near the woods. Everything
else in the yard was untouched
and serene. My feeder, my
chintzy contraption that set me
back $21.99 and told the world
I’d arrived, had been violated.
But this time—having invested
more—I had been violated, too.
Once again, I had become the
victim of a hungry bear. And
once again, my long sequestered
grudge—mixed with newfound
I walked back to the feeder’s
broken body and stared up
at the steel cable. It remained
strong and suspended. I was
bewildered. Unless bruins have
mastered stepladders, stilts, or
slingshots, the only way for a
bear to snag my feeder was to
pull off a wildly inspired leap.
It must have been spectacular.
As I picked up and cradled my
feeder, my amazement with bear
athleticism mingled with amazement for my feeder’s resilience.
Despite many missing pieces, it
stubbornly hung together as if
sutured with sinew. I stared at
it. Could it—would it—possibly
still hold seed?
I gathered a few of the largest plastic shards from the lawn
and bee-lined for the garage,
where I laid the sad feeder on
the workbench. I considered
my options. Glue wouldn’t do.
Nor would wire. I scanned the
garage, my eyes finally coming to
rest on the one resource I’d been