Unintended Consequences

Disclaimer: No Technical Content Included

We live on the edge of “civilization”, in a northern Twin Cities suburb. Last winter (our first in this house), we started putting out food for the few brave birds that stayed behind to tough out the Minnesota deep freeze. The regular visits by woodpeckers (4 species), nuthatches, chickadees, goldfinches, cardinals, blue jays and pheasant entertained us right through to the thaw. “Bandito” enjoyed the view, too (click on the thumbnail to see the larger version):

You can look, but you can't eat!

We continued to feed from that point forward, strategically locating feeders off the edge of our deck (to minimize the mess). Ours has been a popular station, as it’s well up in the air and has three trees about 20’ behind the deck that provide both safe haven and a lookout spot.

Didn’t take long to learn it was beneficial to have the feeders empty by dusk, in the summertime. A family of raccoons found the long climb up the deck stairs might be rewarded by a meal of “Dave’s Tasty Bird Feed”. My wife is fond of sharing a story of one encounter which I, personally, do not find all that amusing (can you guess who bears the brunt of that humor?). Once the raccoons discovered the feeders were empty each night, they began to leave behind not-so-little tokens of their displeasure on the steps.

Unintended Consequence #1:  One’s work will be critiqued, whether solicited or not.

Flash forward to a couple of nights ago, when I noticed some movement on the patio below the feeders. I flipped on the light to see a vole had surfaced and was scrounging for scraps that had fallen from above. What does this have in common with the previous paragraph?

Unintended Consequence #2: If you set out to attract one kind of critter, be prepared to accept others.

Two Sundays ago, we were enjoying a wonderful breakfast (expertly prepared by my wife) at our dining table, which faces the feeding deck. We were both taken by surprise when a large hawk swooped down and settled in one of the trees. We watched in awe as his eyes followed the smaller birds commuting from the trees to the feeders:

Hawk observing birds at the feeders

To run a slideshow of 5 hawk pics, click here:  Follow the Eyes of the Hawk

I was hoping he’d spot a rodent or some creature other than the birds to feast upon. After all, we intended to feed the birds – not feed the birds that might feed on birds. To our great relief, he flew off – empty talon’d – after a few minutes of observation.

Unintended Consequence #3: Yours may not be the only agenda in effect.

Maybe these are metaphors and maybe they’re just simple observations from the northern outpost. While you’re deciding, I’ll be filling the feeders.


About Dave Pluke

Dave Pluke served as "the man behind the curtain" (Principal and VP of Technology) of a successful Structural Engineering firm for over 2 decades. Overseeing the transition from two, stand-alone 80286 Personal Computers, through Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) and Design to a fully networked, Building Information Modeling (BIM) integrated environment has provided plenty of "life lessons" (sounds better than "battle scars", doesn't it?). This blog's purpose is to share those experiences and apply lessons learned to better assist meeting the challenges of the future.
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