I never knew the origin of the saying that something “was for the birds.” I knew it meant worthless or not to be bothered with, but it originated, according to some, with where some birds would find seeds to fill their bellies. I’ll leave it there.

I’ve written several times in the past about my affinity for feeding the birds of my neck of the woods. I find great delight in watching them peck away at the tiniest of grains or seeds, knowing for them it’s a feast, and a life-saver.

I’ve even enjoyed watching the squirrels, and the persistence and ingenuity they conjure when trying to and successfully getting their piece of the pie from my little friends’ feeder.

There is no doubt in my mind that a squirrel could successfully break into Fort Knox, grab all the gold, and high-tail it out to exchange it for nuts and berries.

But, much like the year that never was, this year had some strange twists to it as well.

My bird-feeding days came to a screeching halt some time in June or July. I read about a bird flu that was spreading across the eastern U.S., beginning in the south and slowly creeping northward.

The flu was being spread by, among other ways, bird feeders — a communal dining spot that turned deadly for many birds.

I quickly went to the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s website to determine if it was still safe to feed the Massachusetts feathered creatures. No, was the answer. While the flu hadn’t made it into New England, there was still the fear that it could and the plethora of bird-feeders put out by countless kind hearts could perpetuate the problem. The site simply said, “If you love birds, don’t feed them now.”

Wow. So, my avian diner hung empty from its branch for the entire summer. It was sad to see the birds come for lunch at what was almost always well stocked, and find nothing. I didn’t watch for long for fear they would turn toward me, with wings outstretched as if to say, “What gives? Obviously not you anymore.”

I could have approached them to tell them why I cut off their supply, but that would only confirm with my neighbors that I had a screw or two loose.

I kept checking the website each month, and each month was the same — it’s not safe yet.

Finally a few weeks back, I checked and the OK was given. We could feed our friends again, and just wash the feeder every few weeks with mild soap and water.

Figuring my old feeder, which was now a summer tree ornament, could use an upgrade, I discarded it and went to the place where they know how doers get more done to buy a new and improved feeder.

As I was checking out, the cashier saw the feeder claimed to be “Squirrel proof.”  We glanced at each other and laughed at such a foolish claim. She, too, was a bird lover, yet she hadn’t heard of the flu and had been feeding her flock all summer, with no harmful results.

Along with a new 20-pound bag of seed (the same seed I usually purchase), I raced home to set up the deluxe diner, with more capacity. I hung it in the same spot as its predecessor, tossed some seeds on the ground as “bait,” and waited for the return of my buds. Days passed and no creature approached. I was perplexed. Denise said it’s probably because it’s a new generation of birds and they weren’t aware of the feeder. 

That made sense to me. Then a few made their way to the feeder. After a few pecks they were gone. Even the blue jays and crows haven’t approached it.

I took the foolish feeder and shook it to make sure the seeds were coming out as they should. Like a large salt shaker, seeds flew out in all directions. Yet, to this day, still no guests.

I’m tempted to get a neon arrow and light it, pointing out the feeder.

I have no idea why I’m getting no birds, when six months ago, it was “The Place,” for area birds to dine.

My only guess is that the new feeder is the problem. I really can’t see myself returning it saying, “It doesn’t work.” I’ll get looks like I get from my neighbors.

Well, the only thing I can say is this new feeder is for the birds, and read into that what you will.