Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Birds are people too

Smart Guy sent me this picture of this adorable (and possibly fully grown) intense little owl. Look at those claws! My last blog post has stirred up quite a bit of controversy, which seems to come about every time I consider what it means to feed the birds. The title of this post comes from a conversation I had with my neighbor, whose daughter recently learned that our resident Cooper's Hawk eats songbirds. She was horrified and said, "But birds are people, too!" (I fear she had to learn that hawks are birds, too!)

I also received a very exciting email from Cory Anderson, who wrote a book about Jean Keane. He was a close personal friend of hers for two decades, and that book (available on his website and now in its sixth printing) about "the Eagle Lady" looks absolutely fascinating. I will let you know what I think of the book once I receive it, as I believe it is now on its way. The description makes me want to know more about Jean, for one thing, and what happened to the eagles this past winter, the first since Jean's death.

I went over to Abe Lincoln's birds blog (which I follow) to read his story about the dancing cowbird. This is when I realized that there is more controversy than I realized about whether or not it is okay to feed the birds. I get so much pleasure from watching my birdies, and I have become reconciled to the cycle of Nature that teaches me to accept the fact that the big guys eat the small guys.

There needs to be a balance. We humans have displaced so many wild creatures because of our exploding population numbers, our constant crowding out of wilderness and natural habitats, that I believe the eccentric old people (maybe some not so old) among us who feed the birds, within reason, are part of the cycle itself. Am I wrong about this?


  1. I'm looking forward to hearing about the book, I wasn't aware of it.

    I don't feed them because of the large hawk population near/in my backyard. If the hawks weren't here I'm really not sure if I would put out feeders but probably not.

  2. I think I've mentioned before that I do put out feeders in the spring to help the migrants along in case of a late freeze or snow. And I fill them from time to time in the summer and then take the feeders away before the fall migration to the birds to actually go south. But then I take them back out when the snow really hits.

    My 17-month-old and I spent a half hour watching grackles and mourning doves at the feeder this morning. If anything it's a great teaching tool, she can already ID 10 bird species! Most of her little friends can't even say more than momma and dadda yet (can you tell I'm a little proud :) I think it's OK to feed like you do. It brings you such joy I can't imagine you stopping.

    Oh, and those flower pics a few posts down are amazing! Spring is about to get going here too and then I won't be so jealous :)

  3. We feed the little song birds and enjoy watching as the changing seasons bring different customers to the feeders. and yes, we have attracted a sharp shinned hawk now and then that swoops down and snatches a wee birdie in a poof of feathers. As you said, they gotta' eat too. It's much better than the neighborhood cats getting them.

  4. It'll be interesting to hear what the book says. I didn't know that there was such controversy, either. You are right about nature having a cycle. It's not always pretty, but it is necessary.

  5. I used to love feeding the birds. But once I got dear Maggie, the bird dog, it became impossible to do that. The mourning doves are back for the spring, and they like to nest in my window boxes. This morning I found Maggie at the window , from inside the house, standing in point position. When outside I have to keep her on leash until after the baby doves leave the nest. It's so much fun watching their nests right outside my bedroom window. They don't seem to mind.

  6. Ah...controversy....

    We have bird feeders all over our place. We keep them filled in the winter and not so much in the summer. We pout up suet blocks too, and have 4 hummingbird feeders.

    The biggest problem we have is our cats and sometimes it feels like the feeders are bait stations. I agree with you about the habitat loss...and I also think that feeding wild birds in winters makes us partners with God.

  7. Some people have a real problem accepting nature as it is. Mr J gets upset at the cats for being territorial! I explain that they're not being mean... they're being cats. Some of the most beautiful species on earth are at the top of the predator chain.

  8. We have bird feeders but our problems are squirrels. We tried placing those large saucer shape things under the feeders and some other contraption but they jump from the ground up, it’s amazing. In winter we try to keep the bird feeders full but not in summer.

  9. We don't have hawks in our yard on the lake, so we have never seen the attacks you speak of elsewhere..I know they occur, and I don't like to think of it....but it is the "circle of life".
    We have such harsh winters, I am sure if most of us didn't feed them,we'd have far less birds here to eat the bugs.

  10. I certainly agree. Let us know what you think of the book.

  11. I think it's all about choices. The little birds are not stupid. They can choose where they go and they know the hawks are around. If they want to risk it, then good luck to them. I would carry on feeding them and let them make their own choice. After all, life is a risk isn't it? - for us as well as for the birds.
    Blessings, Star

  12. Something got a rabbit during the night..perhaps an OWL or a Hawk..or those darned Eagles...right out on the front walk.. only fur left. I felt sorry for the rabbit..:(


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