Angry Birds!
by Ruth S. Foster




My birds are eating at the feeder again today, as they do everyday. This year my regulars are 2 chickadees, some tufted titmice and a cardinal family. Sometimes I have a fox sparrow.

But the bright red male cardinal is an angry bird. Mean. Yes, different birds have different personalities. Some are shy and timid. Some
are aggressive, which is usually related to size. The bigger ones eat first while the smaller ones wait.

Our male cardinal will not let his little wife (or significant other) eat at all, even after he has finished pigging out. Not the fox sparrow or the other smaller birds either. That angry bird even chased away our other cardinal family whose male was smaller and younger, and whose little wife (i.e. mate) may even have been angry bird's own daughter.

Old Beech Stump

I have trained my birds to always come when we are at the breakfast table. Because the squirrel, who is very resourceful, eats the seeds before
the birds can, I only put out a handful at a time, in 2 open feeders and some on the ground.

Birds are smart. They know what time we eat breakfast. They know we will put out a breakfast of sunflower hearts for them. They also know that if the squirrel comes, I will open the door, bang on it, yell at him, and let them eat in peace.

So whenever I open the door and yell, my birds come. Even my mean, angry cardinal.

The training trick is to put out only enough seed for them to finish each morning. Not enough to be there all day long, and not to be available for the squirrel when I am not around.

 

This year is odd though. I have kept a records of my birds and what time they come for breakfast. We used to have many, many more. About 6 chickadees. 4 titmice, and 2 cardinal families, several juncos in winter, a nuthatch, and some mourning doves.

But this year my birds seem afraid. They are very quiet and hide in the shelter of a bush. Sometimes we have woodpeckers who frighten them, to hide until the scary woodpeckers leave. (I shoo them away, too.) Yesterday a big flock of something flew through and my birds all hid again. We also have had hawks.

Nature is ever changing. Species change. Population density changes. Dangers change. But birds always know where their next meal is. And if I bang on the door and yell, they'll come for breakfast.

Ruth S. Foster is a landscape consultant and arborist. More gardening
information can be found on her website, www.mothersgarden.net