I wanted to explore the man’s motivations for feeding the birds at all and to find out if he is doing it more for himself than for them. We learn about the underpinnings of his psychology in his “urge for control” and desire to be “supreme master.” I’m interested in the real reasons do-gooders do noble acts, such as getting good press or getting tax breaks for giving to charities. If a good deed has its roots in money and/or image motivations is it really ‘good’ or just something that appears to be so on its surface? The push-pulls in this poem are the bird feeder’s need to dominate the birds while earning a delicious self-approval for caring about nature, both countered by the double-barrel blast of halting their visits to his yard and getting labeled a tightwad for not filling their chalet. He doesn’t want to be guilty of “starving his flock.” He also doesn’t want to be alone.
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I liked shifting from the human perspective to the point of view of the birds, where a sparrow sees the bird feeder in his “human cage.” These backyard visitors really don’t need him because there’s “a new feeder down the block.” The birds are really the masters, not the man. He needs them more than they need him, for companionship and to give him the false feeling he is making a difference in their lives and in his own. The birds fly free and have each other while the bird feeder is trapped alone inside his house, crouched over his toilet. So, who has the better life?