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What’s wrong with feeding birds day-old City Market bread?

Dear Action Line: I like to buy the day-old bread from City Market and feed it to the birds. They like it, but is this a good thing to be doing? – Birdman

Dear Birdman: Well, can you afford it? From what I understand, it used to cost about tuppence a bag for bread crumbs. Is that still the going rate? Did you know that in England tuppence is actually two-pence, or two pennies? That seems awful cheap.

Wait, who told me that? Oh that’s right, it was Mary Poppins. Not that Action Line saw the 1964 movie starring Julie Andrews until it was on TV many decades later, but, well, anyway.

Upon further review, it is apparent you are actually referring to whether it’s a good thing for the birds. For that information, we turned to Lynn Wickersham, an avian ecologist with Animas Biological Studies.

Generally, Wickersham said, it’s best not to feed wildlife. Bears, raccoons and other mammals can cause problems and make a mess if they become habituated to a food source around your home. And it’s usually the animal that pays for it in the end.

But birds are a bit different, she said. First off, don’t feed them by hand, and don’t set them up for a cat attack. To answer your question, she said that bread is not good nutrition for birds.

“While birds can certainly eat and digest bread – fresh or day-old – bread does not provide the high-quality proteins and fats that birds require to thrive,” Wickersham said. “If you are a bird lover, consider responsible placement and seasonal use of bird feeders in your yard with local seed blends or suet.”

If you don’t want bears around – and you definitely don’t – take away the feeders in the spring before Yogi wakes from his long winter’s nap. The seed and suet can help wild birds over the winter and prepare them for migration and spring breeding. They do pretty well in the summer when natural food – insects and seeds – are in abundance, she said.

“Even better, consider adding responsible and sustainable bird food sources to your yard such as native trees, shrubs and flowers. The birds will appreciate it, as will your neighbors.”

So, it looks like if you really want to help birds these days, it’s going to cost you more than tuppence a bag.

Dear Action Line: I recently got a Mileage Plus email promotion from United Airlines that advertised flights to “top U.S. ski destinations.” Why is Durango left off this list, especially when similar towns are included? – Heading Downhill

Dear Downhill: Although you and I both realize that neither Purgatory nor Silverton Mountain nor Wolf Creek – all easy day destinations from Durango – are quite on par with Vail or Aspen, they are equals to areas associated with several towns on that list.

Even Grand Junction makes the list. Yes, it’s a great destination if you have business with, say, the Bureau of Land Management, but to call it a great “ski destination” is worth a chuckle, if not a big guffaw. Most people would probably agree that Purgatory is easily the better of Powderhorn, 45 minutes away, or Sunlight (nearly two hours), the two areas closest to Grand Junction.

Montrose boasts nine ski resorts within three hours’ drive, but nothing closer than Telluride, which is nearly two hours away. Montrose, too, is a “ski destination,” according to United.

Before Action Line could relay the question, Tony Vicari, director of aviation at Durango-La Plata County Airport, was already making inquiries himself. He had received the same promotional email from United.

“The omission stood out to me as well, and I immediately reached out to my contacts with United Airlines to lobby for Durango’s addition to future United ski destination marketing material,” Vicari told Action Line. “If Grand Junction is being touted as a ski destination, surely Durango should be incorporated, right?”

Vicari included Hesperus in his pitch, and even Chapman Hill. Good point. If you live in the right place on Florida Road on the right day, you could even ski to the lift. How cool is that?

Other towns on the list are: Aspen, Vail, Gunnison and Steamboat Springs; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Hailey, Idaho; Bozeman, Kalispell and Missoula, Montana; Reno, Nevada; Salt Lake City; Burlington, Vermont; and Santa Fe.

Hopefully, Vicari said, United’s marketing specialists “recognize this as a good opportunity to showcase Southwest Colorado.”

About last week …

Several responses arrived about the Old Man of the Mountain carving. One guy claims he’s mad because it’s offensive to old people and wants to chop it down. I don’t get it. I think he’s making a political statement, but isn’t everyone these days? The general consensus is that people don’t want to see the location revealed, and Action Line is going along with that.

As to who the cyclist sculpture decorators are, Action Line got some clues but no solid answers. Is it possible to keep mysteries under wraps anymore? We will see.

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. Does it still take just a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down?

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