Monday, May 26, 2008

One, Two, ...Many

How long did it take them to find me? I put up a new bird feeder last September and only just now have the small birds, the birds for whom it was intended, found it. Last week one brave House Finch had the courage to test it out. He probably couldn't believe his good fortune. Here was a feeder full of black oil sunflower seeds (caviar to him) and it was all his! However, he soon brought along a friend and before long the whole crowd (er, flock) was descending on my feeder.

House Finches come in several colors from yellow to orange to red like this fellow. The females are just stripey brown. They (the males, that is) sing a pretty gurgling song that has a little buzz at the end of it especially in the spring. After filling themselves up on seed, they will go to my nearby tree and serenade me. That's my thanks. Hopefully, they will also attract other birds to my yard like bright yellow goldfinches, and even warblers that don't eat seeds. It's a little too late in the season for the warblers, but there should still be some goldfinches around.

What they did instantly attract to my yard were squirrels and all the neighborhood cats, some I have never seen before. The predators tended to walk the walls behind the feeder, frustrated by the distance between which is farther than it looks in the photos. Yesterday a squirrel hung around to take a shower when my sprinklers came on. I have never seen a squirrel do that before.

Soon there were so many birds vying for the perches and for the seeds on the ground that squabbling broke out. And then the neighborhood bullies arrived, House Sparrows. This is the familiar LBB (Little Brown Bird) that you see everywhere there are people. These are the birds that will peck around on the ground under picnic tables looking for scraps. The House Sparrow was introduced to North America from Europe in the 1850s. It is not a native, but it has been here long enough to evolve changes in its morphology and has adapted well to humans. It is an aggressive bird that will steal nesting sites of the other cavity-nesting native species and has contributed to their decline.

By noon yesterday the birds had emptied the feeder that I had just filled the day before. Well, they will have to wait until tomorrow for me to fill it up again. Just like humans, if food is plentiful and always available, some will eat it to the point of obesity. In fact, at the end of the day, you will often see one lone, rather plump bird just sitting on the perch, reluctant to leave.

1 comment:

  1. The birds are really a bright red. at first glance i would have thought Robins.