Life on Whidbey: It’s a birdy kind of love

LYDIA SIKES likes to joke that her husband PHIL dragged her here from Chicago nine years ago. “Actually, his daughter worked for me,” she said, “and when Phil came to visit her, she played Cupid.”

Today, they work shoulder to shoulder seven days a week at Whidbey Wild Bird at 860 SE Pioneer Way. Unloading 2,000 pounds of bird seed every week keeps Phil fit. “We go through a little over a ton every week,” he said, adding at home, they use 20 pounds of seed every other day.

He said folks who feed birds usually do a good job. Black oil sunflower seed is best, and only the tiny hummingbird cannot crack the seeds.

“Some birds are very particular,” Phil said. “Robins are insectivores, gold finches are specialists (favoring nyjer or thistle seed) and red-winged blackbirds are the least picky, eating what they like wherever they may find it.”

Phil was familiar with the disfiguring tumors I had seen on the heads, eyes and beaks of finches that stopped at my feeders last year. He said the conjunctivitis came from back East and points to the importance of keeping feeders clean.

Disinfect your feeders with 10 parts water to one part bleach. Discard any stale bird seed. Once it becomes moldy, it is toxic to birds.

Whidbey Wild Bird just began its fifth year. Lydia and Phil make it clear they are there to help people.

“Seniors come in and we help develop a way for them to watch the birds,” Lydia said. “They sometimes bring in pictures they took of birds at their feeders.”

Instead of buying a gift that won’t be used, bird watchers really want a gift certificate to Whidbey Wild Bird. If you should receive one, plan to give yourself ample time to see the hundreds of interesting and practical products.

Bird feeders around North Whidbey kept many birds alive over winter. Some of this credit has to go to Phil, Lydia and local protectors of wild birds.

Put your name on their list to receive a free monthly newsletter by calling 279-2572, e-mail or stop by the store at 860 SE Pioneer Way, Suite 101. See some of the store’s products and variety of seed at

Reputation is priceless …

Like the human body at middle age, houses begin to creak and parts break down. My water bill came as a shock and I was not happy to find the meter was running 24/7. There was a leak, but where?

I know the routine when calling electricians, roofers and plumbers. I call and they don’t call back or even stick a business card in my door. It’s frustrating. Obviously, my emergency is not theirs.

When I worked on board Whidbey Naval Air Station for Public Works Maintenance many years ago, I observed electricians, welders, locksmiths and plumbers. I learned that while electricians detest getting their hands dirty; plumbers, God bless ‘em, will crawl around in the muck to locate the problem. They are a fierce brotherhood, not unlike the followers of William Wallace in “Braveheart.”

My thanks to BOB WATT of Northwest Plumbing (a proud Scotsman) and his assistant JON EATON, for answering my call, doing an inspection, isolating the problem, preparing an estimate, reassuring me I’d be scheduled as quickly as possible and leaving things tidier than I expected.

I asked friends if they knew of him and those who did confirmed what I had already confirmed in my talks with him. Bob earned his good reputation the hard way.

So, homeowners, if you ever need professional home maintenance, and you will, pay close attention when the representative stops by. If he spends most of his time talking to the family dog, he won’t remember what you said when he gets back to the shop. Just trust your instincts. I did.

Down Under Recharge …

TC NIEDZIALKOWSKI, a 2001 graduate of Oak Harbor High School, knows the next three years of law school at UCLA will be intense. That’s why, for the next few months, he’ll be found on a warm beach in Australia.

He deserves the break, said his dad, CHARLES NIEDZIALKOWSKI, a counselor with the Navy Family Service Center. After all, he said, “He started school at age 5!”

TC worked for a software company while completing his master’s degree in philosophy at San Jose State University. He quickly rose to the number three position at his firm but turned down an attractive offer so he could pursue his dream of working in law and technology.

TC’s friends can leave a message for him with Chuck who will relay them on a regular basis.

Last week I planted some brilliant primroses along the garden shed. Just being near living plants is a tonic for the spirit. Pause to inhale the scent of spring on plants outside any supermarket, and I swear you’ll be transported!

See you next week. Call me at 675-6611 or e-mail