Can’t you see I’m working here? The birds have taken over. My wife has set up multiple bird feeders, and she also sows seeds on the snow, so all day long it’s flocks of birds flitting past my office window. I’m trying to get these exams graded, but I get these constant visual distractions.

Also, bird butts.

You might ask, “why not close your window shades?”. I answer that it doesn’t help, because these birds are flighty and numerous. They swoop in, peck as a mob at the seeds, and then after 10 or 15 seconds, they abruptly rise with a whooshing whirr that is quite loud and audible in my office, indoors.

Also, there’s a hawk that occasionally darts in for a snack and sends everyone in frantic flight, and I’d like to catch it in the act.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    The bigger birds (smart corvids) have learned to push my bird feeders to make all the birdseeds fall out. These days I just scatter it on the snow, hoping some will be left over to the smaller birds once the pigeons, magpies and crows have eaten.

  2. birgerjohansson says

    Pigeons can learn to recognise individual humans. When I go to my place of work (where I spread birdseeds, because there are always open, plowed areas where they cannot sink down in the snow) I hear a loud WOOSH of feathers, and I get a swarm of pigeons who insist on getting fed.

  3. robro says

    I lived in the city for 40 years with very little view of birds. Now my desk faces a window with an Ohio buckeye in front of it, and beyond that other trees. So I’m often distracted by birds. Right now there’s a flock of house finches in the buckeye. I’ve come to appreciate the birds. St. Francis would have done better to listen to the birds rather than preach to them.

  4. DrVanNostrand says

    I had to stop feeding the birds around October because it was attracting giant rats. I love the birds, even though it’s mostly sparrows, but I don’t need furry roommates this winter.

  5. R. L. Foster says

    I had to stop filling my feeder for a while because it was attracting a pair of hawks. They’d sit patiently in a tall tree across the street with a direct line of sight to my backyard. Then, when the birds thought they were safe in their numbers, one would swoop in and snag one. The hawks are lovely, clever birds. I know they have as much right to eat as I do. But, still. I really like my bluebirds.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    DrVanNostrand @ 8
    You need to let canids or mustelids go urinate around the place, so the rodents know there are predators around
    (of course, squirrels may just climb down from above to continue raiding the birdseeds).
    Like if ungulates are raiding your garden, you need to spray it with wolf urine.

  7. birgerjohansson says

    Eventually, evolutionary pressure will make the bluebirds morph into a flying kaiju-style monstrosity able to purge the region of falcons.

  8. birgerjohansson says

    Everything has an engineering solution. Have a drone fly with a piece of meat attacked by string (made from an edible material). Teach the falcons to pounce on the meat in the air. After they both are fed, they will cause no oroblems for at least a day.

  9. llyris says

    So… watching the birds is more interesting than marking. I mean, you’ve got a point there.

  10. DrVanNostrand says

    birgerjohansson @10
    We have a neighborhood fox, and he comes to my yard all the time (probably to eat all the rats)! Unfortunately, they breed faster than he can eat them. I caught and killed about 20 this Summer, and the fox ate countless more, but the rat population remained out of control until I shut down the feeder. Is there such a thing as a “fox house”. I’d love for the whole fox family to live in my yard and feast on the rats!

  11. jimnb11 says

    Had several feeders out, even managed to outwit the squirrels. Nice watching the colorful variety of flying critters. Then… the bear appeared. Trashed everything, only a couple feeders left.

  12. Walter Solomon says

    Sparrows are an invasive species introduced to North America by some guy who thought ugly European birds were more Shakespearean or something.

    You should do yourself and everyone else a favor and eradicate them all. The same goes for those ugly Eurasian starlings as well.

  13. davidc1 says

    There’s a Wackaloon on PZ’s blog
    PZ’s blog ,PZ’s blog
    Wackaloon on PZ’s blog
    Get a new spam filter .

  14. davidc1 says

    @30 Some bloke introduced all the birds that Shakespeare mentioned in his plays .

    Starlings are not ugly,and they are not just black .
    Same could be said for the Canada Geese,Grey Squirrels,and bloody Rudy Ducks that someone introduced over here .

  15. Walter Solomon says

    davidc1 @33

    Starlings aren’t ugly because they’re black — I like black birds especially corvids — they’re just rather dirty looking. Admittedly, the shapes they make when a large number of them are flying are kinda cool.

    That said, I’d much rather see a bunch of orioles, cardinals or blue jays than sparrows or starlings.

  16. asclepias says

    What’s wrong with ruddy ducks? I’m a big fan of ruddy ducks! That said, I doubt I’d like them so much if they were invasive–I’d probably feel the same about them as I do about collared doves. In this part of Wyoming, we don’t get many interesting birds; mostly house finches, lots of grackles and collared doves, the occasional white-crowned sparrow or blue jay. We do have a couple of great blue herons nesting in the wetlands to the south of town. Otherwise, lots of Little Brown Birds. We get some neotropical migrants through during the migration, so if we’re really lucky we might get some hummingbirds or goldfinches coming through. Once we had a yellow-breasted chat and a few kingbirds. Otherwise, our feeder tends to be devoid of color (but not activity).

  17. birgerjohansson says

    We have had Canadian geese introduced in Europe.
    They poop everywhere. Silver lining: they are the only birds that will eat the big disgusting Spanish snails, another invasive species. We call them murder snails, since they ruin the gardens much faster than local creepy-crawlies.
    DrVanNostrand @ 16
    You might like watching “Save a Fox” är Youtube. The critters are very social, and can learn getting along with cats. But foxes keep peeing indoors, to mark their territory. Female foxes too, but not as much.
    If you could teach feral foxes to get along with cats, you would have a winning anti-rodent team.
    During winter, the only big birds to stay in the north are raptors. But I assume PZ rarely will see more than falcons and maybe buzzards. The big ravens are cool but generally stay away from populated places.

  18. davidc1 says

    @37 Seems you have never seen a really good photo of them,the colours are amazing.
    Canada Geese were introduced in to GB because the upper class twits wanted to shoot them.
    I did read they are difficult to bring down,so that’s rather unsporting of them.
    Cats and Foxes tend to ignore each other,my bastard cats bring in small rats.

    @16 Don’t know if you have a garden shed,foxes will dig under that and set up camp there.