Tuesday, April 7, 2009

If you feed them, they will come!

With the warmer days, we're throwing seed back into the feeder. Birdseed, we've discovered, is great for organic pest management. It's overly simple, and it's my summary, but it appears it works something like this -
-feed birds
-birds get used to eating here
-birds will find food. They eat the slugs & snails.

I had tons of slugs and snails when I moved in, and after one summer of bird feeding, no more slugs or snails. Awesome!

The bad news - they dug up our sunflower seeds for food. :-/

What this little guy has to do with it - we keep seeing pairs show up at the feeder. The more brightly colored males (who we have called Redheads) hop around the fence singing their hearts out, and the tawny females that tend to sit quietly and eat. I went down to Biology yesterday to borrow one of their bird guides. I described as best as I could, but was laughing as I'd not noticed if the tail was notched or not. (so much for feeling observant!) Our best guess is it's a "Vermilion Flycatcher". The female looks dead on on this website. The bird guide books amused me. What I call "redhead" they call "flaming vermilion crown". Wow!

My only hesitation in calling "named!": The SF Bay area really isn't their turf. Their song sounds more like the background songs in the clip provided by All About Birds. They are very talkative, often just chirping back and forth. They can make a lot of noise for being so tiny! The male often sings away while the female eats, but when another male arrives at the feeder it sounds like an angry chicken house. More research!

Last weekend I also saw another bird with a red breast, but much larger than our little Flycatchers. It was on the path between the sidewalk and the deck, happily digging a hole through the mulch and cardboard. I hope s/he found what they were looking for. Struck me as a funny place to dig - a few feet over there's loads of soil filled with worms, but I'd rather take damage to the path than to the beets!

(Apologies for the unbelievably poor quality of the photos. Both shot through window screens. Birds are pretty unforgiving with interruptions.)

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