Bad Birds

And Bully Birds at your Back Yard Feeders.

However much we love to pamper our local bird population, there are certain species that we should be aware of. Many song bird species are on the decline because of one or more of these Predatory Birds.




Male Passer domesticus
The female is generally lighter-colored and absent the black bib and eye shadow.

House Sparrow/English Sparrow:
is possibly the worst of the bunch. It belongs to the Finch family. It is very adaptive, aggressive, and reproductive. It is known to throw other nestlings out of bird houses. It will nest in any protected area from lighted mall marquees to large building supply warehouses, where it appreciates the water fountains and damaged bird feed bags.

It is the number one enemy of the Eastern Bluebird. Many traps and devices have been devised to exclude them from Bluebird houses, but the similar body size makes the chore a difficult one.




Sturnus vulgaris
Male and Female are very similar

European Starling:
is a tossup for Songbird enemy number one. It is every bit as aggressive and adaptive as the English Sparrow. And it must surely be Purple Martin enemy number one.

Most songbirds have a particular diet, but these two imports will thrive on burgers and fries in fast food dumpsters, seed from your feeders, bugs from your car bumper, or undigested grain in livestock manure. Neither requires a bird house, but will nest in most protected areas. They are both on the most wanted list of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, which has a program underway to bring back the insect-eating Eastern bluebird.

I have seen the Starling evict a much larger Flicker from its tree cavity, and drop the Flicker eggs to the ground.  In early spring, they often travel in 3's. Its sound is very varied and sometimes appears imitative. It is often seen in large flocks with other birds that are black.




Corvus brachyrhyncos

Crows:
are not finicky feeders. Their menu ranges from Eggs and Nestlings to grain and road kill.




Molothrus ater (male)

Cow Birds:
are not aggressive or adaptable. They are just smart. They watch a nest from a nearby lookout, and when the incubating parent leaves the nest for a snack, the cowbird deposits her egg in the nest. The Cowbird chick hatches first, grows fastest, and shoves its nest mates from the nest. All the while, the tenants think this is their own nestling, and feed it to adulthood.






Grackles:
eat insects, invertebrates, eggs, nestlings, lizards, and minnows. And have earned a bad reputation as a significant pest in corn fields, and also stealing food from other ground-foraging birds such as Robins.
 
   




Cyanocitta cristata

Blue Jay:
is less well known as  the villain it is. It will rob bird nests of eggs and nestlings. It will also ruin the fruit and berries in your orchard. And it's a notorious Bird Bath and Feeder bully.





If Bird Feeder Bullies are a problem,
you can minimize their effect by removing or modifying Feeder Perches, as shown here:
You will have more activity at your Feeders if Birds are discouraged from perching there. You will also discourage Feeder Bullies; those Song Birds that chase other Birds from the Feeder while they satisfy their appetite.

Birds will hover long enough to grab a seed, then fly to a nearby perch, while others get their turn to hover momentarily at the Feeder.
"A" shows an angled slippery surface applied to the Perch.
"B" shows screening which prohibits large Birds.
"C" shows a Perch removed.

The Screening at "B" can be  wire or a plastic netting or product made for an entirely different purpose; like Milk Crates or Shelves or many other plastic items







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