Feeding birds can be enjoyable and sometimes challenging

Published 7:05 pm Saturday, June 23, 2012

Taking the time to stop and smell the roses can be an eye opener for a lot of us that are too busy with the hectic pace of daily life.

I have never considered myself a bird watcher, but in the past few years I have enjoyed watching different birds coming to the feeders up at the cabin. I found that I enjoy watching them and when there is a bird I don’t recognize, which is most, I try to find out what kind it is. The feeders at the cabin are invaded by an occasional raccoon and then there are the pesky red squirrels, but for the most part they attract a large assortment of birds that are just fun to watch.

With all this fun being had at the cabin I had decided to try it at home.

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I bought my first feeder for the house, filled it up, and anticipated the onslaught of various birds. I had to run some errands and was gone for a short while but when I returned the feeder was on the ground and pretty much destroyed.

That’s when I spotted two gray squirrels scurrying away from the scene of the crime. All this was not going to deter me from my bird feeding venture so I purchased two more feeders and hung them out of squirrels reach.

Problem solved. Or so I thought.

Life was good and the birds were starting to come like finches, chickadees and two different kinds of woodpeckers and the squirrels could no longer reach the feeders.

This lasted until the battalion of neighborhood blackbirds discovered the feeders. I soon found out that it takes about one full day for blackbirds to empty a feeder and eat an entire suet block. Looking out into my backyard I had flashes of that old Hitchcock movie “The Birds” dancing in my head. I eventually decided to abandon that idea but I did leave one feeder that those miniature vultures didn’t seem to bother.

I guess I will have to stick to fishing. I seem to have better luck with that.

Speaking of luck, there have been some nice walleye caught around the area so far this year, not only on Albert Lea Lake, but also on Fountain and in the Shell Rock River which shouldn’t come as a surprise with the number of walleye in Albert Lea Lake.

It wasn’t too many years ago that a past neighbor of mine called and told me about the walleye that he had caught in the Shell Rock on Thanksgiving Day. I have also heard of a few area lakes that are producing some very nice crappies this fishing season.

The channel below the Bridge Avenue dam has produced some nice walleye on crankbaits, especially in the early morning and late evening hours. The northern fishing has been pretty good on Fountain Lake and the bluegill fishing on Fountain has been going great guns since ice-out.

Fishing bluegills can be a real blast when you are using light tackle and pound for pound I don’t think that there is a better fighter than the bluegill.

On Fountain Lake the best spots seem to be the two bridges, Hatch and Blackmore. Edgewater Bay has a nice fishing pier that is a good spot to try, but almost all of that shoreline can also produce fish. A nice mess of bluegills can make for a mighty tasty meal.

I had discovered years ago that evening fishing along the shore in Edgewater Park could yield some dandy bluegills along with some nice crappie. When I was a kid I had a friend, Dennis, who was from Austin and his grandpa worked for the city and took care of Edgewater Park.

When Dennis would come and stay we would ride with his grandpa to Edgewater Park and fish all day until his grandpa had finished work. We would walk the whole shoreline of the park and I have to believe that we fished almost every inch of it.

His grandma would pack us a lunch and when his grandpa took dinner break he’d come and get us so we could have lunch with him. I don’t think that I’d had many lunches that tasted much better than that.

Spending a whole day fishing Fountain Lake was pretty common for me growing up. You didn’t need much money, luckily, because if your bike tires had air and you could dig up a few worms you’d be set.

I would usually start my day of fishing at Katherine Island and then move to the dam. Climbing the walls under the bridge at the dam was always an adventure and it was pretty exciting when you’d see a school of crappie or a northern swim through. As a kid I could spend most of the day under that bridge and would never grow tired of it. After the fishing was done I’d stop at the Northside Creamery (Dairy Bar) and spend some of my mowing money on a sundae or an ice cream cone.

Yeah, I’d have to say that there just wasn’t a much better way to spend a summer day.

Until next time, take a little time to relax and enjoy a little fishing and watch a bobber as it bounces lazily in the breeze; it’s a great way to experience the outdoors.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.

 Dick Herfindahl’s column appears each Sunday in the Tribune.