Spring Gift Ideas: Gifts for Seniors and the Disabled
Wouldn't it be wonderful to see and feed all the beautiful backyard birds without moving from your kitchen chair or your wheelchair? Window birdfeeders make that possible. It sits in your window like a portable air conditioner. Most of the window birdfeeder is inside the house. The sides and back are made of reflective plastic so the birds can't see you but you can observe them very closely. You fill the birdfeeder with seed or suet from the top. It has a removable panel that is also inside the house so you just lift up the panel and place the bird seed on the tray.
Think of it like a transparent aquarium turned on its side. The outside panel is missing so the birds fly directly into the birdfeeder. With the reflective plastic, the birds never know they are inside your house. It's a perfect gift for anyone who is mobility impaired. No more walking around from tree to tree trying to get the empty feeders down from high branches.
The window birdfeeder can fit in almost any window and in any room of the house. It can be easily removed if you take your feeders down in the summer. Depending on the type of feed and your location, it's not unusual to attract 20 or 30 different types of bird. You can watch the birds come and go for hours. Even folks not particularly interested in wildlife become quickly fascinated.
After the birdfeeder, your next consideration should be bird seed. The preferred diet of your local birds will vary. For example, Goldfinches like thistle and sunflower seeds while nuthatches go for peanuts (no salt please).. During the cold months you might want to supplement with any of the many kinds of suet. One even has dead bugs in it.
A little online research will quickly tell you what type of seed you need. Don't forget to check out your local nature stores, feed stores, and discount stores. All that will pale compared to the variety of bird food online.
Depending on the type of food, you'll need several containers with tight fitting lids that can hold between 1 and 5 pounds of seed. Make sure the senior or person with a disability getting the gift will be able to manipulate the lids. At the same time that you want something easy to open you don't want it so easy that the dog can get into it. Open or spilt seed can attract mice and other varmints.
Suet cakes can be bought in bulk and frozen until needed. Many types of seed are purchased in containers. Check to make sure that they can be lifted and manipulated easily.
The cheapest way to go is to buy in bulk and then store the bird feed in garbage cans with a tight lid. Keep them in a place that is cool and dry. However, buying in bulk will be a complete waste of money if the bird seed is allowed to mold.
Books and Posters
Most birdwatchers, even the casual ones, will want to know what kind of birds they have. A general guidebook or poster is very useful. There are hundreds of bird identification books. They range in price and size. A large coffee table book may make for beautiful photographs but is not very practical when you're rushing to identify a bird. Field guides have a tremendous amount of information. Unfortunately, they can be overwhelming to the beginner.
Start with something simple that shows a large image of the birds from your area as well as some general information about nesting habits and behavior. If the senior really just wants to identify the bird and no more then a poster with the 10 or 20 most common birds may be just the trick. Mount it near the feeder on a wall or the front of the refrigerator.
CDs, DVDs and other Media
The number of birding DVDs is always growing. Like with guidebooks, there are those that show the local birds with some information about their songs and behavior. Others can be as detailed as printed field guides.
There are also CDs available that have bird songs. Some just for ambient sound and some that will name the bird and play its song.
I bought one of these birdfeeders for my father who was impaired with a heart condition for several years and one for my grandmother who didn't get around much when she was older. I'm happy to report that both spent many happy hours feeding and watching the birds. Our bird poster hung on the front of the freezer. My grandmother never bothered with books. She already knew her birds.