Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Are Birds Political Creatures? You Bet!

©Bert Gildart: Once again the bird feeder is capturing our attention, providing humor and sometimes creating philosophy, so easy to do on these boring winter days when winds blow and temperatures hover well below freezing.

Philosophically, we have concluded there are four different groups that gather at our feeder: the Republicans, Democrats, the Self-Assured Independents, and the Evil Ones. And  we have a rationale for each.

Doves, we’ve concluded, are the Democrats, tending to get along and allowing others of all stripes to gather along the feeding platform. At least they do so until seed on the platform begins to diminish, then realizing they may go hungry, they begin to bicker. But as long as the food lasts, they’re cooperative.


Flickers (perched atop feeder and descending tree) are the Republicans; doves the Democrats


Red-shafted flickers are the Republicans, and by their actions seem to express a belief in power of the individual.  Flickers never forget that one cold winter day the food could all be gone; and they have no compunctions about driving others away with their God-given sharp beaks, even those of their own kind. If they could speak, they might proclaim they had succeeded at the feeder because they worked harder than their competitors.

Pileated woodpeckers are the Self Assured Independents, and can be that way because of their size, strength and coordination. At our feeder, they’re the golden eagles. In the world of humans, they would be a Jack Dempsey, a Muhammad Ali, standing confident, even when the suet runs low. When it’s gone, pileated woodpeckers fly away, believing, it seems, that they will find other sources.


Pileated woodpecks feed with confidence at our feeder; they're the Independents


And now we have our occasional Evil One, the squirrels, who come to our feeder and do whatever they have to do to capitalize on what’s there. They break the windows of the feeder, scatter seed all about, even take up residence until we shoo them away. They’re the Bernie Madoffs, the Kenneth Lays who sometimes bully their way to our feeder.

But what, we ask ourselves, is going to happen should we leave or – heaven forbid – should we run out of money to buy suet and bird feed? There will be a shut down and unless our birds can find other sources, some could perish.


Red squirrels are the Bernie Madoffs at our feeder, creating havoc


So that’s how we spend boring winter days in Montana, talking about birds and their party affiliations, realizing, of course, that we need much more study to add distinction to these thoughts.

I’ll bet that Gildart blog readers are glad that winter here is starting to wind down.



*Missions of San Antonio

*And For Some Good Down Home Advice From an Old Farmer

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy

Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy

What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy

4 Responses to “Are Birds Political Creatures? You Bet!”

  1. Rich Luhr Says:

    I, for one, think this is one of your funniest and most ironic posts. If a long dreary winter makes you this creative, I say “Stay up there! And may winter last another two months!”

    From Tucson, where it is 75 degrees and hence I am feeling quite uncreative today,


  2. Adam Says:

    I agree with Mr. Luhr! Though it is a seedy tail I can see that this type of behavior can drive one nuts.

  3. Will Says:

    It seems obvious to me that if you quit filling the feeder the doves would starve, they are used to being fed, they will not know what to do if you cut off their food supply. The doves live off of the welfare system. Obama loves the doves!

  4. Bert Gildart Says:

    Mr. Will, Essentially the point of my post was to point out that if we withheld food from the feeder that both the doves — and the flickers! — would suffer. And I challenge anyone to show me that he/she wouldn’t feel the pinch if, by my analogy, there was a government shutdown, no matter what brand of feed he/she accepted. Some like to talk the talk, but they really can’t walk the walk.