Everyone likes to watch birds at a feeder. Who can resist the sight of a black and white chickadee extracting the kernel from a sunflower seed? Or the delicate beauty of a bright yellow goldfinch perching at the feeder? But there is one group of bird watchers who particularly enjoy watching life at the feeder.
Nursing home residents around the country get tremendous pleasure from watching birds. In West Virginia, residents benefit from the dozens of feeders built by the state's Nursing Home Bird Feeder Project. Voluntary contributions by Kansas state income tax payers support wildlife projects through the state's Chickadee Checkoff Program. The nursing home program has given hundreds of bird feeders to nursing homes in Kansas.
An Ohio grade school builds feeders for nursing homes and donates them as holiday gifts. Local hardware stores donate the supplies, making this a real community project. A chain of stores that sells wild bird products offers bird feeder recycling: anyone who brings in an old feeder gets a discount on a new feeder. Store staff clean up the recycled feeders and give them to nursing homes, along with a five-pound bag of food.
In fact the feeders are so popular at some homes, residents organized bird watching clubs to learn more about the birds and share their enthusiasm with others. They invite local bird watchers to give talks about birds and show slides of the bird watching trips. In turn, local bird watching clubs invited residents to join their bird watching trips. An increasing number of accessible trails and viewing platforms make bird watching possible even for people in wheelchairs. And for those people whose mobility limitations restrict them to the car, who says you can't watch birds from the car?
Several nursing homes have extended the bird-friendly facilities to include bird hoses and birdbaths. At one nursing home, residents decorate houses for bluebirds and purple martins.
Hummingbird feeders are perhaps the most popular type of feeder. Slender translucent red tubes contain sugar water, which the tiny birds sip. Suction cups attach tube feeders to windows, so people can enjoy the quick movements of the colorful hummingbirds even from their beds.
Nursing home managers recognize the definite advantages of attracting birds to their residences. Bird feeders bring the dynamic natural world into the slower world of the nursing home. The colors, movements, and sounds of birds appeal to the senses. Bird identification stimulates the mind and provides opportunity for sharing and discussion. For those who are able, filling and cleaning the feeders are useful and rewarding tasks.
Giving to and taking care of others is a precious part of life. Taking care of the birds helps residents feel part of the flow of life, a feeling that too often gets lost in places like nursing homes and hospitals. Bird feeders give pleasure to nursing home residents and residents give sustenance to the birds--a true win-win situation. The new trend of installing bird feeders at nursing homes brings new meaning to the phrase, "It's for the birds."
Chris Robertson is an author of Majon International, one of the worlds MOST popular internet marketing companies on the web.
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