Friday, May 16, 2008

My Restaurant is Closed


The clean-up crew is on duty.

I’m a patient person, I think. On second thought, patience isn’t a virtue of mine but I do strive to think rationally. On Wednesday evening I shut down the bird feeders. I felt no anger - just sad disappointment. Closing the restaurant was my only option. The tiny bit of seed and nuts left in the feeders got dumped on the ground and the suet cake feeder was removed and stored in the garage.


The birds watched me from the trees like they usually do and let me tell you, it broke my heart to see a Brown-headed Nuthatch land on an empty peanut feeder and look for Zick dough and worms. They were expecting their early evening feast because they know my routine. Oh, yeah, they know who I am. It hurt to watch the confused birds,


Lady, didn’t you forget something?

My bird paradise went from bad to worse during the week. Have you ever listened to over a dozen European Starling babies scream to be fed from sunrise to sunset? Tree branches were sagging with the weight of them all lined up together. Add six or seven screaming Mockingbird babies to their noise, a few dozen adult Starlings, Grackles and Mockingbirds squawking at each other and you have a riot that can be heard indoors with the windows closed. It’s hard to describe. Frankly, I can’t afford to continue to feed the boisterous, nasty gluttons. They devour the safflower seed I’ve served and will eat anything/everything.


Starling, I know you have mouths to feed, but your children have colic. Will you calm them down, please?


All of their feeders were empty by noon, every day.

An hour after I closed the restaurant I saw an adult Starling and a few offspring on the front lawn searching for grubs with the Robins. That’s the way it should be! Maybe the House Sparrows will find another haunt. They've succeeded in destroying two Carolina Wren nests on my front porch this spring. Hmmmph.


No jelly for a while. Sorry.

A very wise, good friend reminded me that the birds don’t need us. We need them. Since Wednesday, they still arrive to check out the feeders, enjoy a drink in the pond and a bath, but are slowly leaving. It’s noticeably more peaceful today.

I’ll miss them very much until I re-open in a few days or weeks.




The night before I closed the restaurant, I was leaning on the fence with my camera and saw the sudden retreat and alarm signals the birds give when the Cooper’s Hawk arrives.

All but one of the birds disappeared.


He thought he was hiding?


He left the nuts and hung under a seed feeder and waited, not knowing the hawk left quickly, after a few seconds.


He waited for a few minutes longer until other birds reappeared.

See? This is what I’ll miss!

I’ll find other things to please me, I guess.




I can’t find this species in my NC guide! Help?

I won’t lie about how I feel.

My bottom lip is protruding.

But, it’s temporary.


Anonymous said...

Will you miss them more or will they miss you more? It's a shame the gluttons ruined it for everyone.

possumlady said...

Mary you have more willpower than me. I should do the same but I just feel too guilty with their pleading beady little eyes. "Your babies have colic" I laughed out loud at that one! I, too have my share of those screeching starlings who have even started being cocky enough to jump into the cat food bowl on my porch to enjoy a few tasty pieces of kibble.

But, the catbirds have returned and even though my sister calls them "the poor man's mockingbird" I still love their meows in the early evening. I've been putting out grapes and have seen them flying off with them.

Anonymous said...

Sad to say, Mary, but fall isn't that far away. Enjoy your hummers, and look forward to the return of your other buddies.

After some complaints from the neighbors years ago, I keep my feeders out in the field near my garden. I can see them, but the noise isn't bad.

Talk about gluttens, last evening, I threw out a lof of white bread that I bought by mistake, and one crow made off with almost all of it!

NCmountainwoman said...

I hope your luck is as good as ours. We took down the feeders (except the suet and hummingbird) because of an obnoxious invasion of Pine Siskins. They were everywhere! After a week we put the seed feeders back out and were delighted to have everyone (except the Pine Siskins) return. Now we have our "normal" birds and a few siskins.
BTW: I linked to the swallows URL. What extraordinary extremes you will go to to help out. I loved it!

Anonymous said...

It's true: The feeders are for our amusement more than for the birds' survival. When it gets crazy out there, typically right around this time of year, I stop putting out food for a couple of weeks. By June, lots of birds have fledged and the feeder scene becomes a little more civilized.

Maybe we'll get to see more of those snakes and pond critters on your blog now!

And your photos are AWESOME!

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

Wonderful post, Mary. I love all of your pictures! I used to stop feeding them in the summer months, but I enjoy seeing the newcomers, so I can't bring myself to stop. I just love having them around too much. I might have to skip a few meals myself so I can afford to keep feeding them though. Between the birds and the squirrels, I might go broke! ;-)

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

It'll be OK May. Once the little piggies are grown you can feed again. How are your hummers?

Mary said...

Anne, I'll miss them more, for sure. They watch me in the evenings, though...waiting for dinner.

Christine, I've been tempted to fill the feeders again but I must wait. On my little 1/3 acre, I attracting too many GANGSTA BIRDS!

Sandy, I've been waiting for a complaint from the neighbors about disturbing the peace :o)

NCmountainwoman, maybe in a week? I'll monitor...I really hope to be able to have normal birds again real soon.

Iris, I'm glad you made the note that they'll return. This spring has been a fiasco and a real battle!

Lin, LOL! I was thinking I might need a part-time job at Wild Birds Unlimited to afford food for the birds!

Linne, it's been chilly/cool here...I see hummers only a few times a day and not many of them. But I'm too busy to watch. Later in the summer, I hope to see my 12 again. Not much activity right now. :o(

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I feel your pain Mary. We have had to do this before. Usually during fall migration. UGH... I can't stand those starling. The House Sparrows either. They chased away a Purple Martin couple that was checking out the houses we put up. Grrrrrrrrr

Susan Gets Native said...

Steady, girl....steady.
The starlings will go elsewhere and you can feed again. Promise.
Now put your lip back in and take more pictures of the Girls.

RuthieJ said...

Oh Mare, that's too bad, but you did the right thing. The frustration isn't worth it. (I know what I'd do if I had starlings like that, but then my neighbors can't see into my backyard either!)
Susan had good advice--more pictures of the Licker Sisters!

Anonymous said...

I was having the same problem with the brown headed cowbirds here. They had completely taken over and the smaller birds were not coming around. I emptied the feeders but only lasted several days before I gave in and thought the coast was clear. A few have shown back up but not near as many as before. Hope that you have more willpower than I did...LOL


Susie said...

Hi Mary,
I know you'll miss your birds and we'll certainly miss your beautiful photos (hope it's just for a short time) I laughed at the "your babies have colic" That must have been quite the racket to endure.
Enjoy your pups and pond while things settle down..

Corey said...

Mary, if I had to guess I'd say that's a Summer Azure (Celastrina neglecta). Look at the 4th picture down on this page.

I'm no expert, but that's my best guess.

Mary said...

Corey, thanks for the link. It's a good one with good photos. I think you're right!

Ruth said...

I just leave up the finch feeder and the peanut feeder. If I am outdoors, I sprinkle a little seed under a couple of shrubs and usually attract a few sparrows and a chipmunk. House Sparrows made me take down the feeders in the winter for a week.

Jayne said...

I had to do this once at my other house Mary, so you are not alone by any means. Sometimes, you just have to take away the joy to get some order back. I know it may sound horrible, but I've sort of felt that way about the Goldfinch this year because there were so bloomin many of them, emptying my feeders constantly, and leaving no room for others to visit. It will be better in a week or two. Hugs!

Silvertree said...

I saw my first rose-breasted grosbeak today! And the only reason I recognized it immediately is because I saw one on your blog the night before last when I was catching up on your posts. Thanks!

So sorry to hear about your gangsta birds. I had grackles shut me down a couple of weeks ago. A couple have come back, but nowhere near as many as I did have.

Appalachian Lady said...

Love the photos! I take up the feeders when we go on a trip and the birds come back quickly when we return. I am lucky I haven't had any starlings though.

Mary C said...

My method of crowd control is leaving the feeders empty for several days (except for the finch feeders and hummingbird feeders). I have noticed in the past when I would keep all feeders filled I would get many more house sparrows. Now it seems to be more controlled; and I usually refill the feeders on weekends when I get to enjoy watching them more often.

JeanMac said...

Mary, I let them fend for themselves as of May 1st - then the feeders go back up in Oct.

Debbie said...

That is too bad, Mary, but I very much understand.

In the house we used to live in, we had to take our feeders in every night...not because of annoying birds, but because of the bears. I do not miss that.

Unknown said...

Hi Mary
I am beginning to think the same thing about my feeders. To many grackles and Red wing Blackbirds.
Plus the cost of seed has gone up a lot. At least it has here. We can always get a bird fix on a nature walk.

Sherry at the Zoo said...

Such a sad post, until the colic comment. I laughed and laughed at that.

I want birds. I need birds. But so do the cats. We've already had several "gifts" this year. I can't bring myself to attract cat food to our yard, no matter how much I need/want the birds.

Mel said...

Hi Mary,
I have no feeders at home, so it's not a decision I have to make. It must have been hard :(

Cheryl said...

I have very few birds on the feeders Mary.....the starlings are eating grubs out of the lawn.....the blue tits are taking greenfly from the roses and caterpillars from the oaks....etc etc.
My bird food bill has gone down, but they are around and happy in the garden.
Perhaps you give them just too many lovely treats???

Anonymous said...

Mary, you need a squirrel-proof feeder. It will not only deter the squirrels, but the grackles are too heavy. When they land on it, the access to the food closes. I have one and still enjoy the cardinals and other small birds. When the grackles get out of control, I don't put food on the ground or suet. I am going to order a new suet feeder that only woodpeckers can use because they can hang upside down.

Q said...

Dear Mary,
I know this was hard to do but was the best choice. All your darlings will be right back as soon as the Grackles and Starlings have moved on.
Now you can sip tea with the Hummingbirds in peace.

Annie in Austin said...

This must be so distressing for you Mary - and after reading about your problems I guess I'll stick to giving the birds water. We don't get a lot of different species that way, though - something you did with the many kinds of food. Hope a temporary closed sign will help!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Rose said...

This kept me in suspense, Mary, until I got to the starling part--aha, now I understand! I hope that they soon find another "restaurant" so that you can feed your lovely birds again.

Nora said...

Yes that is the summer azure in the picture is tiny and the wings are brighter blue when open and flying....sorry you closed down the feeders for a can open them after the starlings move on...I tap on the window and scare the starlings off, while my other birds sit and stare dumbly at me and don't budge.
(and yes Mary you can move in here any time you want...we need your humor here...cheers)

Kathie Brown said...

Mary, how sad to have to close up shop! I was almost to that point before I left the little town I lived in in Maine. For just over a year I had a peaceful woodland feeding station with tons of beautiful birds and even some squirrels. I could outwit the squirrels and chipmunks, but when the street pigeons moved in, it was all out war. They were messier and more agressvie than the squirrels and much harder to outwit. I would have done what you have done if I had not moved away when I did. I hope you can be successful in reopening your "bird restaurant" soon.

kate smudges said...

Sometimes we have to do things like this - the birds will find elsewhere and they'll still come for their drinks and baths. I love the photographs of the bird hiding from the hawk ...