Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Emerging Ecosystem

It all started with a simple bird feeder. I wanted to encourage wildlife in the neighborhood so what better way to accomplish this goal than to purchased a bird feeder. For the first couple of days, there was little activity, and I was disappointed the birds were ignoring the stylish feeder that I had so carefully selected at Target. I needn't have worried. Before long, the feeder was attracting sparrows, starlings, finches and all manner of unidentifiable bird species. The feeder was a success!

Then several days later, I noticed that cardinals were congregating on the porch floor eating seed. It turns out that the small birds (which are messy eaters!) toss out the larger seeds from the feeder. At some point the larger birds had discovered this new food source. Wow, I thought. My porch has become a sort of bird mecca. 

Nevertheless, my elation was short-lived, since the neighborhood squirrels soon discovered the discarded seed as well, and were now competing with the larger birds for the food. To my dismay, the squirrels always won these ugly confrontations.

The current top of the food-chain, as of this week, is a neighborhood cat that has also managed to find the feeder. The cat hides underneath a porch chair near the feeder, lying in wait as the unsuspecting birds eat the discarded seed. I've seen the cat pounce; although, so far as I know, it hasn't caught anything (yet).


Concerned that the cat would eventually catch a bird, I decided to move the feeder. Unfortunately, relocating the feeder had no effect. When the cat arrived, he initially hid in his usual spot, but after half an hour or so, when no birds showed up, he noticed the new feeder location and put two and two together. It just proves the stereotype that cats are crafty and intelligent, especially when it comes to hunting. 

It seems that the purchase of a simple bird feeder has turned the entire porch into a miniature ecosystem supporting birds, squirrels, and even cats! I wonder what's next? 

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