Girls! Girls! You're making a huge mess! These are the female house sparrows doing what they do best, taking a bath and splashing everything within three feet, top to bottom. This is just a small fraction of them; the others are waiting until they see an opening. Meanwhile, the guys are bellying up to the bar, making short work of the sunflower seeds in the feeder.
When I began this post I was thinking about how difficult I find these sparrows to be. They crowd out the other birds and pretty much take over in some cases. Their young have now fledged, and there seem to be hundreds on my front porch sometimes. I have put them on a diet, not filling the feeder too quickly and only three times a day (it's clean within minutes). I also have a vertical feeder with sunflower seeds, but they prefer this feeder with shelled seeds in order to take their meal as quickly as possible. When it's empty, over to the other one they go.
The sparrows are also flockers: when one comes, they all come, and when one takes off, the flurry of wings can be heard throughout the apartment. The goldfinch are not as numerous, but they have also fledged and I now have more than 30, I think. When the sparrows come to the vertical feeder, they knock sunflower seeds to the porch, and this attracts the other bane of my existence: these guys (no offense, SquirrelQueen).
I wouldn't mind if there were just one, or two. But they also have had their young, and when the teenagers come onto the porch looking for a quick meal, they tend to pass along the word to the others (hey, if you get there quick you might find some seeds!). Say hello to the youngster above. The adult squirrels are so well fed they actually waddle!
I try to sweep the porch at least three times a day, and now the goldfinch are beginning to eat us out of house and home! I fill the sock and their upside-down feeder twice a day, spending way too much at the Wild Bird Chalet.
You can see the new ones; they are softly colored and sort of fuzzy (click to enlarge). I think all of them except the central one here are new babies. The sparrows are not interested in this sock filled with thistle, so they leave it alone. I love these guys, the goldfinch and the chickadees are so much better mannered than the sparrows. They don't make such messes, and they don't crowd the others out. Chickadees zip up to the feeder and look for a seed, zoom off to the tree and eat the seed, then come back for more.
I love watching the birds, but sometimes I wonder if I am doing the right thing. In nature, most of these fledglings wouldn't make it. I found out that the feed is helping the young to get enough to eat, but when they migrate (the goldfinch will move to California when it gets cold), I won't be able to pack them a lunch, will I? Is it the right thing to do?