Can't resist

Ingrid Ossanna taiona at
Fri Mar 22 10:07:30 PST 2002

Hey folks:

OK, I can't resist! Aside from the Hummingbird feeders which go throughout
the summer (along with the various flowers to supplement their diet) my
bird feeders (four of various sizes) run throughout the cold season. I
usually go through about five or six 50 pound bags in the winter. And I
watch all of MY birds as they share in the repast on a daily basis.

What I have found to be true over the years I have been here is that there
is a whole community of birds who share and who definitely have a pecking
order. In that pecking order the House Sparrow is somewhat on the low end,
not in numbers but in pecking rights.

On the top of the regular bird pecking order are the Western Scrub Jays,
all others moving aside when the jays come. Next in the hierarchy are the
Redwing Black Birds who are more skittish and take wing more readily than
some of the other species, but who definitely take over the territory when
they arrive.

I have two trees that I have nicknamed for their resident inhabitants, one
is the Darkeyed Junco Tree (the Norway Maple) and the other is the House
Sparrow Tree ( the Holly Tree, which by the way makes splendid protection
for all small birds from predators, Sparrow Hawks and cats alike). When
other flocks of birds take over the feeders the Juncos and the House
Sparrows (always) more often than not retreat to their respective trees
(Juncos to the Maple in front of my kitchen window, and House Sparrows to
Holly Tree).

Two Mourning Doves come usually in the afternoon, very beautiful, and they
eat what is scattered on the ground. Some birds are definitely seasonal
such as the Cedar Waxwings and the Evening Grosbeak, both species displace
all others when they come to feed. Towhees come occasionally as well as
Nuthatches and they mix with the crowd or skirt around it.

I guess what I am trying to get across here is that there is a PECKING
ORDER at my feeders and it has nothing to do with numbers. I have three
nests in the eaves of my one-hundred year old house which have been
occupied every year that I have been here by the same species. The one
facing east is a Starling Nest and every year they entertain my

Two nests in the back of the house face southwest. One is a Violet-green
Swallow nest and always has one brood (despite close proximity to the Holly
Tree). One is a mud nest of the Barn Swallows and they are my heartthrob.
They raise two batches of babies without fail every year. And not one
House Sparrow nest in the bunch despite all the food they consume during
the winter.

I suspect that habitat destruction and habitat relocation in urban areas
has a lot to do with behaviors observed in bird as well as other species.

Ingrid Ossanna
Elma, Washington
taiona at

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