Don’t Tear Bread Into Small Pieces For Birds


My favorite daily reads include linguist Arnold Zwicky’s posts to his eponymous blog. He can be relied on to provide entertaining, informative and even, occasionally, out-and-out curious entries. A contribution to the latter appeared in my email box this morning, well-buried within a post on ‘formulaic and conventionalized language’.

Among the issues Arnold was examining were word-play and the formulaic construction ‘[the best thing] since sliced bread’. Beneath a cartoon of birds at a feeder, captioned “It’s the best thing since bread torn into small pieces,” he added a side note:

“All the reliable sources say that feeding bread torn into small pieces provides no usable nutrition to the birds and can be actively injurious to them.”

Who knew?

Having nowhere to hang it, the tube-shaped feeder I used to fill with ‘oil seed’ at my most recent residence prior to my current one, is empty and unused. Probably just as well: Next thing you know, some wag will advise that the ‘volunteer crop’ resulting from dropped seed bits resulting from birds’ sloppy eating habits are, unbeknownst to just about everybody, contributing more mightily than anyone might imagine to the ecological disaster befalling the earth.

Imagine: Oil seed bits drilling their way down into the subsurface, creating, over millennia, masses of oil (with threads of natural gas) likely to make neighborhoods where bird-feeding is common certain targets of the Shells and BPs of this – or that future – world.

Still, much as I would like to play a small part in supporting the needs of hungry birds, there is no way I will be placing whole or even quartered slices of bread out for them.

I saw a video recently of a New York City rat hauling a sizable piece of pizza toward wherever it calls home. I am not providing an opportunity for one of its country cousins to do the same with a slice of bread – all in the interest of preventing the risk of injury to my feathered friends by feeding them torn-up slices.

Having nowhere to hang it, the tube-shaped feeder I used to fill with ‘oil seed’ at my most recent residence prior to my current one, is empty and unused. Probably just as well: Next thing you know, some wag will advise that the ‘volunteer crop’ resulting from dropped seed bits resulting from birds’ sloppy eating habits are, unbeknownst to just about everybody, contributing more mightily than anyone might imagine to the ecological disaster befalling the earth. Imagine: Oil seed bits drilling their way down into the subsurface, creating, over millennia, masses of oil (with threads of natural gas) likely to make neighborhoods where bird-feeding is common certain targets of the Shells and BPs of this – or that future – world.

Still, much as I would like to play a small part in supporting the needs of hungry birds, there is no way I will be placing whole or even quartered slices of bread out for them.

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