Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Listening to the Phoebes

Ever since my delightful “Day with the Downys,” I’ve  tried  to spend at least half an hour  each day observing the wild birds.  Lately, I had noticed the Eastern Phoebes were spending a lot of time around one of my front yard feeders.  This surprised me as Phoebes are known as insect-only eaters.  Upon closer inspection, it became obvious what was transpiring.  The Phoebes were standing in the large tray peanut feeder eating the small pieces of suet that had fallen from the cage above.   

At first I thought I was hallucinating but the pattern repeated.  I raced to the computer to conduct a Google search on “Phoebes + suet” and, sure as shootin’,  found two other commenters in bird forums who had witnessed the same occurrence. 
Apparently, no one told the Phoebes they don’t eat suet.  One avian enthusiast made a most astute observation.  She noticed that Phoebes either cannot, or will not, perch or hang, thus they are prohibited from eating suet out of the usual cage-type feeders. 

This revelation broke my heart.  For years, I have watched these sweet, darling, little tail-waggers wistfully  watching  the other birds enjoy free food from the feeders.  How sad!!  Well, not anymore!  LaBonBon to the rescue!  I raced outside with a knife and proceeded to cut up a cake of suet into tiny easy to digest pieces which I placed onto the tray.  

Eastern Phoebes' new platform suet feeder

Feeling quite proud of myself, I was then rewarded with the Law of Unintended Consequences.  The Blue Jays were wild about the new setup and devoured most of the suet pieces.  Oh, well, a minor setback.  I can see now I need to do a better job of policing this project which will be easier when it cools off and I can have the house windows open.

I remain intrigued and will report back with further findings.  This revelation just adds credence to my earlier theory about the remarkable behavior of animals.  Experts aside, there is still so much we do not know or understand about our feathered and furry friends. We just need to listen . . .

1 comment:

  1. Lovely story and what a beautiful, kind hearted person you are. I've never noticed phoebes in our backyard but I'll look out for them.


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