Assisting Predators

This morning, with six inches of snow on the ground and flurries still in the air, the feeding area at our Littleton farm was especially active.  The visitors were the usual suspects: house finches, Eurasian collared doves, dark-eyed juncos, black-capped chickadees and a northern flicker; a pair of lesser goldfinches were also present (see More Tardy Migrants).

Hoping that the crowd of local winter residents might attract a rare vagrant, I decided to observe the feeders for an hour and submit a report to eBird.  Just over a half hour into my watch, a sharp-shinned hawk swooped in to grab a meal; though he missed his target, the feeder party was over.

Such is the nature of Feeding Birds.  Many benevolent humans do so to help the birds through the winter (an altruistic but unnecessary gesture) while avid birders do so to attract rare visitors to their property (as well as to enjoy watching the locals).  Of course, such an unnatural congregation of songbirds serves to augment the success of predators (especially feral cats and accipiters).  Once again, I was forced to confront the wisdom of interfering with nature.