Bully in the Bird World

Ray Pope

Bully in the Bird World | Anthony Gray, Ray Pope, Red-winged Blackbird

Male Red-winged Blackbird and daughter

Anthony Gray and myself had laid plans for a decent day of getting out into the countryside for some top notch birding. If everything had gone the way we had planned, it would have been perfect. As the old saying goes, the best of plans can sometimes head south very quickly.

With fresh batteries loaded in my parabolic microphone, my listening would be super enhanced and nothing within ear shot could escape not being identified. Where were all the birds that should have been singing? It was quieter than a cemetery at two in the morning. Before too long we had made our way to where the old Ramsey's boat dock used to be. Besides the fishermen hanging out there, one lonesome Great Blue Heron had taken up it's position on an old stump out about fifty feet from shore waiting on breakfast. I tried to take a good picture to go with this weeks article, but my hand was shaking a bit too much to get a sharp photo.

Getting back into Anthony's van seemed to be a challenge to me and it seemed that all of my energy was depleted in the effort to do so. I told Anthony that I wasn't feeling too good at the time and he suggested that we stop off back at my house. It was a problem just getting out of the van and walking the short distance to unlock the front door. Three peanut butter snack crackers later, I felt like I should check my blood sugar, since I am a diabetic and take insulin shots twice a day. At this time it was registering just 111, and no telling what it was before I had eaten the snacks and drank a pepsi max with it. I will have to be more careful with my ailments and go better prepared on the next trip. Even today, Sunday, as I write this weeks article, I still feel a little puny from all of the changes that I put my body through.

Sometimes I will see more looking from my kitchen window, than we will see driving through the country. I watched a female Robin and her spotted breast little one down beside my in-ground bird bath right outside the window. The female found a worm next to it in the moist soil where I had dumped the old water out and replaced it with fresh water, just a few minutes earlier. Remember what I have told you in some of my past articles, that a baby Robin can eat 14 yards of earthworms in a single day. I'll bet that you can't eat just one. The mama Robin flew off to look for more and left junior still waiting by the birdbath, unprotected. Here came a juvenile Grackle and walked straight up to the baby and just started to fight with it. The Grackle out weighted the Robin 2 to 1 and I had to rap loudly on the window to get it away from the smaller victim. That was the first time that I had witnessed bullying from one of our bird species.

I believe it was last Thursday, that one of my resident Red-winged Blackbirds had come to my feeders with a newly fledged young-en in tow,(see enclosed photo). The little female had learned very quickly how to beg from her dad. Every species of bird that came close to the little lady was fair game as she followed every one of them around with her beak wide open, hoping that one would deposit a morsel of seed into her mouth. I went outside at this point in time to refill the feeders, and she didn't fly away until I got to about five feet from her. She had her dad shelling the sunflower seeds for her and then shoving them into her mouth. Now three days later, she has learned the fine art of hulling the seeds herself and giving daddy a much needed break.

I would love to hear from you as to what's lurking about in your neighborhood and at your feeders. You can write me at, 606 Fairview Ave., Lebanon, TN, 37087, or e-mail me at, rpope15@bellsouth.net