Relocating Bird Feeders
I’m relocating bird feeders today because of a merlin. This merlin. It’s taking advantage of the bird feeders a couple of times a week. Yesterday’s hunt was a disaster. This is the best way to put an end to the merlin’s opportunistic hunting and help the small birds.
Predators have to eat but enough is enough. The merlin bombed through the 15 foot space between the house and my truck, where the bird feeders are located, and picked off a grackle. That’s fine, he has to eat, but I can’t offer him a buffet. He bombed through, panicked the grackles, red winged black birds, brown-headed cowbirds, European starlings (why can’t he pick off the invasive starlings, for goodness sake), chickadees, juncos, purple and American finches, and a sparrow I haven’t properly identified yet. Birds hit the dining room, kitchen and sun porch windows, the side of the house, and crashed into the truck and Jeep. The banging of heads and bodies and beating of frantic wings startled me.
On the ground, grackles lay on their backs, feet in the air, wings spread. Stunned or dead? I couldn’t tell. Under the truck, grackles were crouched down, wings spread as braces, chests rising and falling as the birds breathed through gaping beaks, and eyes…the stunned eyes. I watched from inside. After a while all but two birds recovered enough to fly away. One, still on its back beside the Jeep, was dead. The other, still under the truck, dazed but looking better. I waited longer, giving the dazed bird more time to recover. I looked around the yard for ideas for the bird feeder relocations. There aren’t many places I can feed the birds and watch them from the house while I work.
Grackles, black birds and starlings gathered in the bare tops of maple and ash trees above the door yard. Upset, startled, loud, they were still fussing 20 minutes later. Maybe the merlin was still nearby. Or perhaps they saw their dead friend. I watched the dazed bird leave the safety beneath the truck and straggle away, one wing not working quite right but well enough to carry him into the trees across the road.
Disposing of the Casualty
The dead bird was the only one left so I went out to take care of its body. I thought he’d be a good meal for Slinky (who’s turning brown again). I know…that’s a little morbid but the bird was already dead and it would save the life of another bird as Slinky is an excellent bird hunter. “Sorry, bird…” I offered as I bent to pick it up by its legs. It flipped over, stood up and flew away in a flash. It made it, barely two feet off the ground and with unsteady flapping, to the other side of the road and crash landed at the base of an ancient ash tree.
I’ll be relocating bird feeders to the safety of the hydrangea trees in front of the sun porch. I can see the birds from there and they’ll be much safer. Merlin will have to hunt without my help.