31 May 2014

A Bit about Birds

Never give birds peanuts or dry bread. That advice haunted me for years until I learned that birds have brains and minds of their own. Take the peanut issue: this advice was mainly given at breeding time in case peanuts made the baby birds choke. However, I have noticed that bluetits religiously ignore peanuts, even broken ones, when hunting for food for their young. Instead the parents offer them live food and refrain from eating peanuts until their own mealtime.

Having a nesting box right in front of the kitchen window and feeding stations around the garden I am able to study the habits of our garden birds. Of particular interest are the diverse ways of eating. Most birds will wait their turn to peck at a piece of food. If No.1 bird is already eating, No.2 will keep his distance for a short while before advancing towards it. Voluntarily, No.1 will then walk or fly away. Mr and Mrs Blackbird are different again. If Mr is eating, Mrs will shoo him off (and vice versa) so that she can peck at the same piece of food... yet there is food littered around the lawn. Wouldn’t you think a piece each would be preferable? There is no punch-up, leastways not often. The punch-ups come when the squirrel tries to dominate the area. Usually it’s the magpie who confronts him although he never wins against Sammy Squirrel. One flick of the tail and the magpie scarpers.

Whenever Joe or I poke our heads out the robin calls a greeting (well, it sounds friendly) and keeps it up for the time we’re out there. Last year I was greeted daily by two baby robins who liked to dart after a piece of suet, and this year there are another two who watch and wait for me to appear with the food container. It gives me great pleasure to toss titbits and watch them scurry to gather them up. This year the babies have learned to gather several pieces at a time and I watch as they fill their beaks before flying off.

Ignoring the fact that dry bread lacks suitable nourishment, the crows and jays gather it in like there was no tomorrow. And squirrels, of course. What fascinates me is the way bigger birds take lumps of bread to the birdbath to dunk it in the water before eating it. And they credit birds with having no intelligence ... another case of birds knowing best, methinks. 


  1. Oh! quite a bit of information you have we are in such a congested area that we very rarely see any other birds except sparrows and crows..but to have a yard of your own and watch the trespassers is such a pleasure..and I envy you..

  2. Very enjoyable Valerie as I love to observe the birds and not only to see what type of food attracts what type of bird. They certainly are smarter than we give them credit for and are always entertaining.

  3. ha. its funny...nature survived well before us...and our advice...i have seen them dipping bread before eating as well...yeah i think thye have a bit more going on upstairs than what we want to believe...

  4. Great post, Valerie! Enjoyed your little slideshow of the Bluetits. I've seen Grackles dip things in water and fly off with it - I think they were feeding babies.

  5. "I was greeted daily by two baby robins who liked to dart after a piece of suet, and this year there are another two who watch and wait for me to appear with the food container."

    That's amazing, Valerie! In fact, this entire post was utterly enjoyable and informative because I had no idea about their eating routines.

    Isn't nature fascinating? And yes, I definitely think they're much more intelligent than we give them credit for.

    And I loved the video you made. That last bit when he flew out of the feed box made me giggle!

    Have a lovely Saturday, dear lady.

    X to you and Joe!

  6. Ranita, it's sad that you don't see many birds. I cannot imagine a day when we don't have some to watch and feed.

    Denise, we don't have the variety you get in your gardens but we're happy to be able to study the selected few... smiles.

    Brian, how true. Nature was around before our day. We humans think we're superior, but are we?

  7. Good afternoon, Ron. I'm glad you liked the post 'cause I enjoyed writing it. I had a picture of the birds and their habits in my mind as I chose the words to describe them. It always gives me great pleasure to watch and appreciate our wild life.

  8. Yes, we underestimate these creatures who live and raise their families without ANY help from us at all! In fact with hindrance usually...
    Mind you I occasionally wonder about the intelligence of birds when pheasants wander in to the path of the car. There again, they're bred to be stupid, aren't they ? or so someone told me.

  9. Jenny, smiled at your last remark. Stupid birds... or too trusting, maybe?

  10. What a beautiful post. Birds are such strange, fascinating creatures, aren't they? Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  11. I certainly enjoy the birds in my yard. We have the feeder at the window so we can watch their comings and goings.

  12. Well....dang. Yup, I fill up the peanut feeder year round.
    Research time for me!! My woodpeckers will be very annoyed. LOL


If you're new to A Mixed Bag you might find something to interest you, a bit of mirth, a story or two, or some pictures. I'm so pleased you popped in, do leave a comment if you have time.