“Fiddler on the Roof” may get the most credit when this phrase is heard, but family members (especially the kids) have been using it long before a fiddler was sitting on Tevja’s roof. Many of the traditions we cherish are part of holiday activities. Some began last month, but in December they occur more often.
One tradition I confess isn’t a favorite of mine. It’s the December column that must be written early this month. It’s time to talk about gifts for birdwatchers, or birders, if you prefer.
This year I thought I might discuss gifts I think are good because I wouldn’t mind finding them under the tree. Looking back over Christmases past, I remember some special “birder” gifts I’ve received. Optical gear has always topped the list and my late husband surprised me with one of these more than once. One year it was a new and more powerful set of binoculars. When my first spotting scope greeted me one Christmas morning, the next column was entitled, “Happiness is a new spotting scope.”
Optical gear is a perfect gift for both beginning and experienced birders. Let your pocket book be your guide. Excellent binoculars can be purchased for a variety of prices. Spotting scopes are expensive. The Number One rule if you are considering these for a gift is quality. Take a good look through the viewing area and think how your eyes feel. Do you squint? Or, do your eyes relax? Eye comfort is so important. Power and weight are equally important. Your arms can get tired when you are looking through field glasses for several minutes while trying to find that bird flitting through the treetops.
A gift I never tire of receiving is another feeder. After all, feeders do wear out or get almost impossible to clean. New designs are constantly coming on the market. A feeder is a gift that will always please a birdwatcher — especially if you add a bag of those expensive, shelled sunflower seeds. When it comes to bird feeders, there is a new one that is sure to be a happy surprise under many Christmas trees this month. A heated hummingbird feeder will be very timely as we go into winter, the coldest time of the year. I mentioned this product several weeks ago, and now that I have one of my own, I can’t say how delighted I am.
“Hummers Heated Delight” is made in Albany, Oregon, and is the creation of the late Laurance Bolen. His wife and sons have carried on the work since his death in November 2014. The product uses the popular plastic hummingbird feeders we are familiar with, but with one difference. A night light is installed in a plastic bowl fastened under the feeder. This creates enough heat to thaw or keep thawed the syrup in the upper part of the feeder. You do need an outside outlet to plug in the electrical cord. After that, things are pretty simple. You can check these feeders out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My last Christmas gift suggestion is books. When it comes to books for birdwatchers, the choice is almost endless. From field guides to human interest stories, bird books run the gamut. “The Fastest Things on Wings” by Terry Masear is a wonderful little book about rescuing hummingbirds in Hollywood. How do you take care of injured hummingbirds or raise orphaned baby hummingbirds? The collection of stories in this book is a sampling of hummingbirds treated by rehabilitators in Southern California. They rescue more than 500 orphaned or injured hummingbirds each year. The book is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It is newly released and I will do a full review later, but wanted to call attention to it before the holidays.
Now that this particular Christmas “tradition” has been addressed, it’s time to think “trees!”
Write to Joan Carson at P.O. Box 217, Poulsbo, WA 98370. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. Or send an email to email@example.com