Surviving self-quarantine requires a flexibility of spirit. One quickly learns what is essential to living and what can be done without. Dave and I? We’re set. We’ve got beer, toilet paper, and mealworms.
Hell, I’ll eat anything. But I won’t be caught during nesting season without Studley Windowson’s favorite food. Chickadees gotta eat.
In early March, when we were just getting an idea what was coming, a friend did me a favor. “You have enough mealworms? Because you might not be able to go to the store whenever you want.” Oh shit! We stocked up. Turns out you can buy mealworms online, of course, just like everything else. “I’ll take 500,” I typed, and a week later a small box marked LIVE ANIMALS landed on my porch.
I should have remembered you can buy grubs by mail. I delivered plenty such packages. It can be ominous. You get a parcel stamped LIVE ANIMALS and it makes a dry, rattling sound when shaken, you’re best off leaving it on the porch, ringing the bell, and running like hell. If they don’t see you, you can blame it on your replacement carrier.
This box was fine. I’m not sure what I expected. When I buy them in the store, they come in a ventilated plastic tub with wheat meal. Inside this box was a simple cloth bag with a drawstring, and inside that were my five hundred mealworms, naked and in zippy condition, congregated around a piece of crumpled-up newspaper. I decided to decant them into a cottage cheese container so I could keep them in the fridge. Next to the beer. Refrigerated mealworms are less motivated to beetle up.
They didn’t exactly pour out. Lots of them were pretty attached to the newspaper. I got the bright idea of upending the bag over a colander and batting at it until they dropped, and then transferring them to the tub. It was going pretty well. Except the bottom layer of mealworms wouldn’t slide out.
Because they were poking themselves through the holes in the colander. From underneath, it looked like the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Why, my friend asked, with that look that people often give me, didn’t you use a bowl?
Shit, I don’t know. Might as well ask me why, when I’m hopping around trying to get my sock on and I crash to the floor, I don’t let go of my sock. People have asked me that. It’s the same answer. Shit, I don’t know.
I think somewhere in the back of my mind I made a connection between the little ventilation holes you have to have in the worm tub and the colander holes. I don’t always think things all the way through. Anyway, after an entertaining five minutes or so of playing Teeny Tiny Adorable One-Finger Whack-A-Mole with my colander, I got them all into the tub. You know, probably.
And Studley is all over it. He and Marge have eggs cooking right now and within a few days it will be Peep City, Start Up The Gravy Train. Meantime, he’s hauling worms off to Marge about as fast as we can pinch them out. He’s got skills. If we’re twirling our fingers in the wheat meal trying to scare up a worm–they hide–he gets impatient, lands on the side of the tub, and spears three invisible worms at once. He’s learned to hover like a hummingbird in front of a window if he sees us indoors. He’s the best damn bird in three counties and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise.
I don't even know Studley firsthand, and I love him! He's an amazing bird, and I wish him a long and happy life. He's very fortunate to have you as a friend.
We're lucky to know him. Kind of like to get Marge on this gravy train but so far she's held back.
I am 120 miles from the nearest pet store, so I have often mail ordered supplies. The only problem with mealworms is that they don't tolerate extreme cold so timing and and a close watch of weather forecasts is necessary. That said, have you ever been tempted to try the little morsels yourself?
I don't even like vermicelli.
I buy freeze-dried and live mealworms, mix them together and the birds eat all of them, really, really quickly. Apparently they are easy to fool when they are hungry.
Yeah, I thought Studs would eat the dead ones, inasmuch as they're incorporated in suet blocks and such, but if you put a dead one in your hand he comes right over and tosses it out and waits.
Many years ago we put in a mail order for live worms for our tropical fish. In summer. Big, big mistake.
I'm guessing your postie felt the same way.
"I'll eat anything" … I thought you were going off in quite a different direction there.
And it isn't even true.
So far, peanuts, suet and sunflower chips have kept my garden birds happy but then, probably they don't know about mealworms. Should I tell them?
Thinking about Marge remaining shy. 2 California Scrub-jays regularly visit my yard. One was quick to learn that he could take peanuts from my hand, but the other one, even after 2 years, still won't even claim a peanut put on the porch railing unless I go inside, close the sliding door and move completely out of sight. I think birds can be just as individualistic as people: some brave, some extremely cautious. I'm happy to host them all, anyway.
I've been pleased to note that Studley is still very aware and cautious (I wonder if his bum foot was originally a cat injury). He can't relax with a scrub jay around. One time Dave and I were on the front porch all ready to go and he sat up in the wisteria a few feet away hollering like mad. Couldn't figure out why he wasn't coming for the worms and then we noticed Tater was right behind us in the window.
Why are you hopping around trying to put on a sock?? Sit, woman, sit! It's so much easier that way, with much less crashing to the floor.
I love Studley, he's a good partner, good parent and entertaining too.
Same answer: Shit, I don't know.
Hey the moths in my pantry are now reproducing like crazy and I have little worms crawling along the door…you should have asked.
And Studley found YOU. The best bird, indeed.
It's so cool that he recognized us when we were outside. All this time I thought we were watching the birds and didn't realize they were watching us.
Thanks for that visual of you hopping around trying to get your sox on. I LOL'd and spit my coffee. "Shit, I don't know." You're the best, don't ever change!
Apparently I'm the only one who does that. It's all a plan to test my bone density every day.
In addition to my usual monthly delivery of thoughts and prayers, I'd love to add mealworms.
I hope the Portland Collective of Wisdom and Goodness will allow this (despite it being sadly notional.)
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