Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Invasion of the Starlings

Today the strong winds had died down so I expected the calm would be reflected at the feeders after the frantic dashes for food the birds have had recently. Quiet it was not. I can certainly see why Alfred Hitchcock was inspired to use birds for a horror film!


Hungry Starling, video 0:14 with background music, try 480p quality.

The Starling, shown above, definitely enjoys the fat cake most of all as you can see - but if table manners were to be judged on birds this one is very near the bottom. This starling came to the feeders alone, we occasionally see this especially early morning, but usually they come to my garden in packs of five or more. Today it was the more……….. and more! In groups the starlings feed franticly, tearing into the foods and continually colliding into each other in their efforts to get at the food. Today they just kept on coming – the smaller birds usually stand their ground to a certain degree but they were nowhere to seen for a while.

Jackdaw visits are infrequent but today our occasional visitor came by at the same time as the starlings. It has a likeness for the peanuts at my small hanging house sited away from the main feeders. Yes, I did say small house and yes I did say Jackdaw. How I hear you ask? Well, it’s all in the technique. The Jackdaw flies at the house and knocks it into the tree it hangs on – in doing this it tips the house enough to snatch a peanut and off it goes.

Yesterday I refilled my feeders, scraping away the soggy seeds that had stuck on the table and gave it a good clean. I am very aware I must regularly clean my feeders especially when I have lots of birds visiting them. I deliberately didn’t put too much food on the table so it was emptied that day – I did need to top it up though.

Today I again only added a small amount of food on the table - a cereal mix with some sunflower hearts. The blackbirds were the first to scoff at the table despite the supply of sultanas on the ground feeder tray and the odd small tasters of cheddar scattered on the ground! A female blackbird was particularly dominant - pre-starlings. Even the pigeons stopped by – and at one point I felt the need to open my window and scare the birds off as I was concerned neighbours may have washing out!

I pondered over my invasion of feathered friends - one conclusion I came to was cause and effect. Cause would be smaller amounts of food available at the table. Effect would be desperate birds as the food supply is running out. I am serious here – I have wondered about this before. My solution – top up the food on the table. I did this and feeding did then settle down a bit. The other, as obvious, conclusion I came to was that the birds have found it difficult feeding in the strong winds - perhaps they were just filling up with extra fuel for bad weather.

The weather theory will be tested perhaps tomorrow – it has just started snowing!

For more information on the Starling and the Jackdaw go to
http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds/guide/s/starling/index.asp
http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds/guide/j/jackdaw/index.asp

The video clip shown above was taken in my garden on January 10th 2007.

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