Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Bird Wars

The status quo of birds feeding at my bird feeders today was still nowhere to be seen. I would say in fact it heightened to outright Bird Wars. The Goldfinches were the only species that didn’t fight with each other. It was quite cold today, we had snow overnight but it was all away by lunchtime. Hail followed with the odd snow showers in the afternoon which made the feeders even more busy than usual. Perhaps it is simply survival that is driving the strong behaviour change - the basic need for food to survive the cold.


Woodpigeons in the way, video 0:26 with background music, try 480p quality.

The Bird Table, shown above, was taken over for long periods today by Woodpigeons and Starlings. I am considering only putting out sunflower hearts on the table tomorrow as it is a high energy food. Maybe then the birds will get enough food on a first visit to leave, letting others in. Today I was concerned for the smaller birds as they couldn’t get near the table, or feeders, at times. Unfortunately when they did get their turn they wasted energy in chasing each other away from the food.

Fat cakes are also very high energy. Clearly that is why they are so popular with most birds – although I have never noticed the finches ever feeding on them. Tonight I will go out and hang a fat cake away from the table in an effort to keep the Starlings fed and give the other birds a chance. I’ll fill up the feeders too as they have definitely gone down significantly today – this will give the early birds a chance to get food too.

If I were to be honest about my observations of bird activity today I would say I was concerned about how my neighbours may view it. If I were honest about how I felt about it, I would probably say 'I wish the Starlings and Pigeons would feed elsewhere'. In actual fact as the day went on and I saw the panic in the feeding of the birds I actually felt quite sad. They know they must feed and store food to survive. We, in fact, are no different when we rush to the shops when we feel stocks there may go down through bad weather or some other reason. I myself when I went to the supermarket today was not surprised in the least to see the car park so full for a Wednesday just after lunch, after all, we have snow forecast for tomorrow!

For more information on the Woodpigeon and Starling go to http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds/guide/w/woodpigeon/index.asp and http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds/guide/s/starling/index.asp

3 comments:

vandjq said...

Hi Shirl,

I have also been concerned about pigeons, so bought a ground feeding table and a wire cover which only lets in birds up to starling size. I have read that some people consider starlings a pest, but my wife and I find them quite amusing, squabbling on the feeder and spraying water all over when they are on the bird bath. However, we only get about 10 at a time so it's not too bad. One thing that does concern me is that our blackbird is a bit shy and doesn't use the ground feeder. But in your reply yesterday you said you scatter raisins around, so we are going to try that later today after a trip to Tescos. It's fun isn't it?

shirl said...

Hi again, vandjq

Yes it is fun! I enjoy experiment with the different foods. Sunflower hearts (the white ones) are the greatest success for me at the feeders! Although Starlings and Blackbirds are going through a huge amount at the moment as they are taking them away to feed their young!

I have not found the blackbirds shy. I have a few and they fight sometimes and generally chase each other around the garden. Safety in numbers perhaps – your one needs to bring some mates!! Another favourite to give them as a treat is grated cheese – but the starlings must have sensors to spot that to!

To help the blackbird visit regularly you could scatter the food away from the ground feeder in an area (like at the base of your ivy) that the blackbird passes through. It will then return there for food again. They like to search the ground so I would be confident it would find it. It will eventually go to your feeder too it feels braver.

What will definitely bring the blackbirds back is a bird bath. As I said in my last reply a simple large saucer on the ground with pebbles will work better than a small stone purpose built one - it likes to spread its wings and move around.

As for the Starlings, well, they do invade a little don’t they? They have good memories too – try moving your ground feeder away to another area and watch their puzzled looks! :-) I plan to post on them later as this morning I spotted a juvenile being fed by the parent and then it trying to bath in the most dangerous place (for it) right under the tiny waterfall of my pond. Silly thing!

Yes it is definitely fun to watch all this activity in our own gardens – there are always surprises!

vandjq said...

Hi Shirl,

You were right! I scattered raisins under the ivy and the blackbird found a few. And it found its way through the mesh to the ground feeder. And it used the bird bath. We also saw what I though was a wren, until a starling fed it. It was a fat little fledgling. What a sight!