This Best of Bogue column originally was published Jan. 1, 2004.
Dear Gary: When we moved to Brentwood, I put up the tube-style bird feeder I had been given 10 years earlier and enjoyed watching the birds feed from it, albeit they were mostly of the sparrow family.
I recently decided to buy a new bird feeder because the old one was getting a little ragged around the edges. So hubby and I went shopping and bought a really pretty one that has brass leaf cutouts on it and is squirrel-proof, even though we don't have squirrels in our area. But it is as I said, pretty. I took down the old feeder, filled up the new one and hung it out.
One day, two days, three days. The birds sat on the latticework on the fence but wouldn't come near the new feeder. Once in awhile a bird would light on it but not for very long. On the fifth day, I gave in and put the old feeder back up. Within an hour or two the birds were feeding. I am going to hang the new feeder a short distance away from the old one, hoping they will come.
The moral of the story is that what is pretty to humans is not necessarily pretty to the bird community, and they don't like change any more than humans do.
Dear Joan: It isn't just birds -- all creatures don't like changes in their daily environments and habits.
I hid it in a brown paper bag on the way home so no one would see it, and then slipped it behind the towels in the hall closet without turning on the hall light so my cat wouldn't notice.
My embarrassment at merely having this "thing" in my possession knew no limits. Even now, years later, it makes me shudder just to think about it.
And then I forgot about it. The human mind is a truly wonderful thing.
Months later, I was cleaning out said closet and I came upon that fearsome bowl. What the heck, I thought. This is silly. It's just a bowl with some artistic junk glued around the sides.
The plastic cat dish was getting old and cracked and kind of scummy, so I decided to replace it with that wonderful bowl.
While my cat was sleeping in the sunny spot in front of the window, I filled the new bowl with cat food, sat it down in the cat's usual feeding spot by the refrigerator in the kitchen and went to answer the phone.
As I was talking to the caller, I suddenly heard a horrific crash.
The horrible bowl was no more. I found pieces of it scattered all over the kitchen floor.
It took me another six hours to find my cat, who had locked herself in the bottom drawer of the file cabinet in my office.
Until I moved into a new apartment six months later, my cat absolutely would not set one paw in that kitchen for fear that she might encounter that fearsome thing that she had found consuming her cat food.
Now that I've thought about it, I don't think I'd hang your pretty new feeder too close to your old one. Know what I mean?
It might come flying through the window some morning while you're trying to relax over your first cup of coffee.
It's a good idea to start the new year off right with your wild backyard neighbors.
Gary Bogue has retired after 42 years of writing this column. If you have animal-related questions, contact Joan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.