Making Peace For Their Survival
After we finished preparing our beehives for the winter, putting a cold frame over the winter vegetable plot and cleaning up most of the leaves it’s time to focus on our avian pals. We don’t feed them in summer because we don’t want them to depend on us completely for their survival and we want them to have some incentive for pest control in the garden. But when insects die out or hibernate underground and flower seeds and fruits wane, it’s time for us to return the favor. It’s only fair. We’ve been carrying on a symbiotic relationship since I started gardening.
Late autumn and winter is also the time the birds make a truce with one another for their own survival. The territorial line is diminished, no need to defend a non-existence. No female to impress, no kids to protect…they only need food, water, shelter and to avoid becoming food themselves.
Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata) will steal other birds eggs or chicks during breeding season so other birds never let them get close. Still, small birds depend on Blue Jays to give them warning when there is a hawk around. Blue Jays sometimes even gang up on a hawk. But at this time of year smaller birds seem to welcome the company of Blue Jays.
Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), especially the males, are very territorial during mating season. I’ve seen them chase one another in the garden far too many times. In winter, however, both males and females stay together in a flock. One year, our Forsythia bush lit up with twelve male Cardinals looking like Christmas ornaments in the snow. Three females and one male, above, were waiting for their turn at the feeder.
View more backyard bird images at photo blog Amazing Seasons