[Tweeters] feeding birds and attitudes toward undesirables?

Messick, Katie Katie.Messick at kingcounty.gov
Tue Nov 27 08:52:03 PST 2007

Hello Tweeters,

I'm wondering how others who have birdfeeders think about the less
desirable species that benefit from the feeders. I recently started
feeding birds, in part because I only recently got a place to hang
feeders that I could easily see, and in part because my non-birder
husband has recently taken an interest in the yard birds.

One reason I've never had birdfeeders before is that in my highly urban
neighborhood (Wallingford in Seattle), house sparrows and starlings are
among the most common birds, and I don't want to encourage them.
However, the native birds that do come to the feeders are wonderful to
see, the house finches, black-capped chickadees, juncos, bushtits,
flickers, towhees, Bewick's wrens, hummingbirds, and a new yardbird for
us, a song sparrow. I can watch the feeders for hours, and it's joyful
to see the differences among the species, and the interactions between
them, the way they warn the whole group if a cat comes stalking, the way
they share or defend the feeders, the markings that slowly teach me the
differences between individuals, so they become "that finch" instead of
"a finch."

And yet I still struggle with the urge to shoo away the hordes of house
sparrows that mob the feeders from time to time and reduce the seed by a
hefty margin at a go (I have the caged "squirrel-proof" feeders, which
are also mostly starling proof, so I rarely see the sky rats). I know
that's pointless, for many reasons. I've also considered all the seed
types that house sparrows might not like, but that doesn't seem to deter

So my question to the bird-feeding Tweeters community is this: what is
your attitude toward these non-native species? How do you think of
them, do you mind having them throng your feeders, are you philosophical
about it, do you see them as just another species in the mix, do you
delight in them as in the others, or does it frustrate you to see them
emptying your feeders?

Thanks for your input.

Katie Sauter Messick
Wallingford, Seattle
katie.messick at kingcounty.gov

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