We first went to the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Ipswich River Sanctuary as an open weekend adventure. While we were at the visitor center getting our map, we overhead one of the volunteers describing their locations where “the birds might be hungry.” Huh? Progressing from ease-dropping, she then told me that the chickadees and nuthatches at many locations will eat sunflower seeds from your hands. Huh? If I had been hearing this from a visitor, I would have assumed that it was completely frowned upon, but this was coming from a Mass Audubon person. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any sunflower seeds and they didn’t sell them.
About an hour later, we were hiking among the changing leaves and stared in awe as a 20-something couple fed birds from their hands! They happily gave us a bit of their supply, and after overcoming the shock of having a bird swoop inand [perch in the case of the chickadee, hang in the case of the nuthatch] happily eat away. By placing my hand under his, 4-year old R was able to do it too (2-year old M pulled his hand back in fear every time the birds swooped in).
We quickly depleted our supply of sunflower seeds, but vowed to come back.
About a month ago (April 2017) we did, and I was brimming with a mix of birdseed in every pocket. 4.5-year old R now confidently presented his cupped hand of food, but the birds didn’t seem nearly as hungry that day (it was a Sunday and mobbed with people). We did have chickadees landing on R’s hat, and by placing M’s hand in ours, M was practically able to conquer his fear and feed the birds too.
Thank you Audubon Society — we will be visiting Ipswich again! If you are interested, $65 gets you an annual family membership ($32 first-time signup until June 30, 2017) to all Mass Audubon sanctuaries
[$$, fun 4/5, nature 4/5, time 4h]