Feeder Etiquette

On the two most recent occasions that I have put out some bait hoping to attract foxes, I have signally failed. [I just though I’d throw in a signally ‘cos it’s a funny word – well, I think so.]

First to be rejected was a pile of chicken bones that had, admittedly, been simmered for 2½ hrs together with onion, celery, carrot and bay leaf to make stock. Perhaps there wasn’t enough meatiness left?

Yesterday (Sunday), I had a blast from the past by making a Wood Pigeon casserole with forcemeat balls and I put out the pigeon carcasses, once again with no success, and these had definitely not been boiled to death. [In truth they could’ve done with a little more simmering.] I did succeed in attracting (bloody) Tampon the over-decorative cat but even he/she/it was unimpressed.

Our garden does get some different wildlife interest in February and March, though, for it is during these winter months that the regular resident garden birds are joined by Goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis) and Siskins (Carduelis spinus). It has been entertaining watching the way the various species behave at the sunflower seed feeder.

We always have three species of tits: Great Tit (Parus major), Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) and Coal Tit (Periparus ater). All of these, for the most part, fly to the feeder, nick a seed then fly away to cover to eat it. Just occasionally a rebel Blue Tit or Great Tit will remain at the feeder and chomp but it is the exception rather than the rule.

Goldfinches have a completely different approach. They fly in and occupy the feeder perches for minutes at a time, happily munching away, occasionally glancing disdainfully at other feeder visitors but mainly simply ignoring all others while they feed. Goldfinches are actually about the same size as a Blue Tit so smaller than some might think; the red mask makes them look a little fierce, though.

Siskins-201103The delightfully diminutive Siskins, on the other hand, don’t look at all fierce but they certainly behave aggressively. This seems especially true of the females. Siskins also like to occupy a perch for an extended period but whenever another bird approaches one of the other perches it tends to be greeted with a directed flaring of Siskin wings and an open beak. This is definitely fight not flight. [Here is a male Siskin above and female below.]

Siskin and friendI don’t generally like bird-on-feeder pictures but during our short spell of snow it was quite fun to snag a snowy feeder with an intimidating Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) sitting opposite a female Siskin, completely unfazed.

Where have all our foxes gone?

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Posted in 2021 Fox Tales
4 comments on “Feeder Etiquette
  1. BlasR says:

    Envy you those enchanting siskins.

  2. Ann Walsh says:

    Ah, now I know what those yellowy looking sparrows are!!!!!

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