Saturday, July 11, 2015


After 3 months, I just cracked open our second 40lb bag of sunflower seeds for the birds. Word seems to have gotten out about our backyard, and the past couple mornings have seen some ferocious bickering, posturing, and fluttering, as the birds jockey for feeding position. The winner seems to be whoever gets to be higher up while eating, so the two upper perches on the feeder are in demand.

That said, no one wants to be left out, so somehow there emerges the strategy of knocking sunflower seeds out of the feeder and onto the ground. It initially looks like sloppy eating, but of course birds are at least as accurate with their beaks as we are with fingers, and they are clearly capable of fetching a single seed at a time.

So the ground is covered in sunflower seeds, and the sunflower seeds are covered in birds. You can't see the ground from our kitchen window, so I was surprised to make a noise inside and startle close to a dozen birds hanging out and eating on the ground.

The squirrels also enjoy the sunflower seed overflow, and seem to have reached a d├ętente with the birds. I have a plan to have the seeds fall into a cage that birds can get into but not squirrels, which presents a bit of an engineering challenge, but I think it can be done with judicious application of sharp, spiky wires. I've already got a smaller version keeping the squirrels off the beam directly above the feeder.

There's relatively few species that visit us; with our typical scientific rigor, they are:
  • Red,
  • Mrs. Red,
  • Pointy Head,
  • Stripey Head,
  • Black Head,
  • and the very occasional visiting Long Beak.
Smoke Alarm Bird (who most often sounds exactly like a smoke alarm's low-battery warning chirp) is omnipresent, of course, but a bit bigger than Red and Stripey or Black Head, and restricts herself to eating off the ground.

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