With family members Molly the Cat and Buddy gone forever I started a couple years ago tossing random crumbs out in the backyard for any critters who happened to be interested. Turns out the neighborhood sparrows were quite interested, but they soon demanded water, too, so I put out a big bowl for them and filled it a couple of times a day.
I love these little guys. They really know how to get along with each other, a trait I dearly miss in humans. I enjoy watching them pecking away, and after a few months I think they got to know me, and knew when they saw me in the yard that crumbs and water were coming their way. One day at the grocery store I discovered there was such a thing as “Wild Bird Seed!” I bought a bag of it and started putting that out for them.
This past April I posted a movie on YouTube featuring the cute little sparrows, who were elbowed aside by the fat squirrel who then ate all their stuff. This happened on a day when I had a camera planted out there, so the whole thing was captured for posterity.
For that one day, the sparrows went hungry in the interest of filmmaking, but the squirrel must have found a better place to eat, because (s)he didn’t return. However…
…after a while the pigeons found out about the daily buffet. Now, I have nothing against pigeons. All things being equal I am fond of them. But the little sparrows dine so daintily, like peck…….peck-peck-peck…….peck-peck…….peck……. carefully selecting each seed and savoring it. They’re a pleasure to watch. You get the idea. The pigeons, in contrast, are veritable eating machines: peckity-peckity-peckity-peckity-peckity-peckity-peckity-peckity-peckity-peckity-peckity-peckity-peckity-peckity until all the seeds are gone. And each pigeon is about six times the size of a sparrow, so the seeds disappear rapidly.
To counter this piggy onslaught I have instituted a two-pronged defense: I have moved the feeding place to the shadow of the garage, where the pigeons can’t see it. This is surprisingly effective. The sparrows have the seeds to themselves about 70% of the time, while the pigeons are standing around on the wires high above, unaware of the feast below.
I have also added a little hanging bird feeder, much too small for even one pigeon. This method is not working as well. The pigeons are ignoring it, but the sparrows are, too. They seem to suspect it’s a trap. When I put it on the ground they stand about two feet away, just looking at it. When I take it away and put birdseed on the concrete patio, the sparrows are all YAY, LET’S EAT!
But today for the first time a couple of them flew up to where I had it hanging from a shepherd’s crook and tried it out. To be perfectly honest (as I always am) I am not sure these are the same kind of bird I’ve been feeding on the patio. They seem a little lighter in color. Maybe they are not my sparrows. Maybe sparrows don’t like heights. One thing’s for sure, the pigeons won’t get any seeds out of the feeder, as the thing would tip over if one of those big boys landed on it.
More on this later. There’s a new bird with an orange(?) head that I saw eating at the hanging feeder. If I get a picture I’ll show it to you.