On Saturday, I witnessed an amazing “nature in action” moment that I have never seen before. We have a nesting box here at the store that currently has an active house finch nest in it. I watched a say’s phoebe attacking the female house finch on her nest, grabbing her by the neck in an effort to get her out of the nesting box. I can only assume the phoebe wanted to take over the nesting box.
The house finch held her ground and never left her nest, even though she was being viciously attacked. Later in the day, when the house finch was off the nest, I quickly peeked into the nest box to see if she had eggs. I was surprised to find that she had a bundle of baby birds! No wonder she was unwilling to abandon her nest.
On Monday of this week, I received an email with a beautiful picture of an adult male lazuli bunting feeding on millet at someone’s backyard feeder. It is always a thrill to see buntings as they pass through the Prescott area in the spring on their way north. If you want to attract buntings to your yard this spring, white-proso millet is their seed of choice.
Speaking of bird feeding, you may have seen the article on the front page of The Daily Courier on Thursday, April 7, about a proposed city ordinance aimed at preventing the irresponsible feeding of wildlife. It is my understanding that the intent of this ordinance is to prohibit the feeding of wildlife such as deer and javelina. Unfortunately, the ordinance also has a section addressing wild bird feeding, with restrictions on how high a feeder has to be and what style of feeder is allowed.
I have read the ordinance and I personally feel the city should not be in the business of regulating what is—and what is not—an approved bird feeder. There are so many different kinds of bird feeder designs—for different kinds of bird species, and different
kinds of feeding activity. The wording in the ordinance is narrow and restrictive and is not founded on scientific knowledge of how birds feed or what kinds of feeders are needed for the feeding behavior of different kinds of bird species.
It doesn’t take a lot of common sense to realize that a Gambel’s quail is going to use a different kind of feeder than a lesser goldfinch, or a Bullock’s oriole or a tiny bushtit. Feeders—whether they are for seed, nectar, fruit, nuts, jelly, or mealworms—are different by design. The wording of the ordinance regarding bird feeding is not practical—at all.
The issue of homeowners “recklessly” feeding deer and javelina is not the same issue as the hobby of responsibly feeding wild birds—a hobby in which thousands of homeowners in the City of Prescott engage. It does not make sense to enact an ordinance that will negatively affect the hobby of backyard bird feeding because someone is intentionally putting out carrots, apples and potatoes for deer and javelina. These are two completely different issues. The issue of bird feeding should be completely removed from this proposed ordinance. Bird feeding is not the problem.
This matter is scheduled to be back on the Prescott City Council’s voting session agenda on Tuesday, April 19, at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at 201 So. Cortez St. I invite you to come and support the hobby of backyard bird feeding in our community without government regulation.
Until next week, Happy Birding!