• Sky Moss

Upstate Geechie: My grandma taught me to watch birds….

My grandmother’s name was Eloise Foster. My youngest daughter shares that beautiful, old Pennsylvania name. My grandmother had family named, Esther, Edith, Edna….


Originally my grandma Eloise was not comfortable with me and my brother. She spent most of her life not seeing, knowing black people. We grew on her. (side note…. I learned to write reading Reader’s Digests in her bathroom). My Grandmother Eloise could bake, sew, cook Goulash and whoop your ass; in the same hour. She was patient and

On days I had a fever, a cold, mom took me to Grammy’s. I feigned sick. On winter Thursdays we baked bread and made cinnamon buns. The yeast smelled cool and the oven warmed the room.


Outside the three panel kitchen window the bird feeders adorned tree limbs. Two maples, a birch and crab apple tree hosted the guests. Every season the visitors changed… Grand Budapest Hotel… some are regulars, most are. The aberrations and new arrivals kept me peeking out the window. There were various feeder types, homemade, hummingbird specific, suet pinecones, anti-squirrel joints. The hung like edible wind chimes across those four trees. Grandma kept bird books to reference the visitors.


Sparrows, chickadees, Tufted Tits, Cardinals, bluebirds, wrens, goldfinches, my favorite friends, they pull up and say, “what’s good”. I operate off two feeders (2021). One is designed purposefully; it is bully proof. Big obnoxious birds aint welcome…… Oh, Ima name names…. It took some thought and imagination to negotiate that. The seed you offer is important too. Niger sunflower is the best for song birds, little birds… Larger seeds equals larger birds. I am not opposed to them but most are bullies, pillagers and miscreants.



The bullies…. Listen Blue jays gotta eat too but they Hutt Clan. A syndicated predicated on the idea of extortion. Hate em. Starlings, crows and ravens, cowbirds… we have an agreement. I am convinced those birds have souls and will stalk and haunt you. There is actual research. My outer feeder appeases them, I think, like blue jays they are Yakuza. We cool. Male cardinals are aggressive, the occasional woodpecker and spring chestnut warblers too (Glee).


I am always doing dishes. Which means I am always watching birds. Hate Robins although they will be back soon. Bluebirds are a spring favorite. I saw one bobbing and rising over Fitches Bridge 3/4/21…. The last two years we had a two week June visitor, a Baltimore oriole. Majestic…..


My grandma Eloise taught me to look out the window for birds. I miss her. School was boring at age 8, she was not. She also told me after 5/1 stop feeding, unless you are humming birding. Birds are so capable.



Send bird pics to the site. news@southerntierlife.com and we will post your pics.

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