The shenanigans in Madison had me digging up a favorite column from a few years ago – and by popular demand, here is an updated version.
I believe it was humorist Will Rogers who once professed, “I love a dog. He does nothing for political reasons.”
Perhaps in the same regard, that is why I love all things wild and free – as they do nothing for political justification. Unless of course, we take into account the daily show right outside most household windows – an event I submit to you as birdfeeder politics. Even an untutored eye will notice the backyard bird chain of command, on display for those willing to observe.
On top of the ladder is the governing shrike – appearing now and then – but for the most part hiding in the shadows. When he enters the picture, all others scatter – bowing to his stature and position on top of the food chain. At his side, are the lieutenant governor, attorney general and secretary of state – blue jays, one and all.
Our senate of cardinals come and go as they please, but are first to arrive in the morning and last to leave at the end of the day. A mixed caucus of chickadees, juncos, redpolls and finches make up our assembly and can be found here, there and everywhere – quick to debate any birdseed deficit, swift to seek subsidy offerings. Their legislative support staff - nuthatches and sparrows, dig in and clean up after those higher on the feeder’s organizational chart. No matter what issues come to the plate, at the end of the day, all the political players at the feeder retreat and roost to survive the elements of the night.
Daylight each morning brings special interest lobbying woodpeckers of various legal stripes, which can be caught roaming the box elder and locust halls, beaks open for leftover pork and fat scraps at the trough. Always on top of their game, they are at their best while entertaining feeder landlords, influencing bureaucratic birdwatchers and securing passage of suet legislation.
Bi-partisan at times, but for the most part, split by party - peace-loving doves on the left and more aggressive hawks circling the sky to the right. That is, until election storms roll in. Then it’s every bird for himself. Low pressure fronts trigger feeding frenzies, while feathered candidates perch above them all, singing promises of better weather, full feeders and sunny skies.
Will Rogers, a political satirist and friend of presidents, senators, prime ministers and kings, loved to poke fun at elected officials from all parties in the 1920s and 1930s. He knew the nature of their antics and enjoyed following the affairs of state and nation.
He summed it up when he quipped, “Politics is the best show in America. I love animals and I love politicians and I love to watch both of 'em play..."
If he was still alive, surely the antics in Madison and at my birdfeeder today would tickle his fancy.
Ken M. Blomberg is a freelance writer and longtime resident of the Town of Eau Pleine, northeast of Junction City. A 1976 graduate of UWSP in Resource Management, he is currently Executive Director of the Wisconsin Rural Water Association.