Raptors and Bird Feeders

        We returned home today about 3:00, and noticed that one of our bird feeders was more than half full. There was not a bird in sight. Normally our bird feeders are empty by 3:00 with several ground feeding birds making an effort to pick up a seed or two that somebody missed. We went inside to observe both of our feeders. We saw Blackbirds, Finches, Doves, and Sparrows arrive in groups, jostle for position on the feeders, and consume their food in great haste (looked like a group of teenage boyshawk at a pizza party). The birds seemed a bit frazzled and agitated. Then suddenly ... zippppp ... like a flash, they were all gone. Not a bird in sight! This was repeated several times until dusk settled upon the yard, and still the feeders had food in them.

        Whenever birds react in this manner, we know there is a reason. If this happens at your feeder, take your binoculars and walk around your house and yard. Scan the perches at the tops of trees in the neighborhood, and you will probably see a raptor.

        Last week we saw a picture in a magazine of a Bald Eagle plucking a Starling from the air. The raptors that attack at our feeders in Bloomington Ranches are much smaller than the Eagle, but well adapted for chasing small birds. We have seen Cooper’s Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, and even a Merlin that keep the birds at our feeders on their toes and mentally alert. Bird flocks are kept healthy by raptors from the sky. A bird that has a headache, ill, or not up to par will soon be picked off by one of the ariel predators.

        Bird feeding is a great way to enjoy birds up close and personal, but keep in mind, raptors are a necessity to keep illness from spreading through entire bird populations. Raptors have a great immunity system and can consume sick, injured, or dead birds. In their ‘quest for the flesh of life’ the sharp talons and beaks, designed for tearing flesh, are the true picture of a raptor. This week’s picture of a Raptor, dawn by Brenda Rusnell, certainly catches the harsh beauty and function ability of a raptor’s beak. Thank you Brenda.

        Be sure to attend the St. George Winter Bird Festival - January 28, 29, 30, 31. We have great presentations, and field trips. Learn all you’ve ever wanted to know about our amazing birds. For more information call Red Cliffs Audubon - 435 673-0996.


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