Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pecking Order

Before getting to pecking order, I've got to get this off my chest.

If you are a frequent blogger, you've probably done this recently. If you are a reader of many blogs, you've surely read it recently.

It's the post about how many comments and how many followers and why I write it the way I do. Everybody has their own idea, but the jist of it all is that we write our blogs to please ourselves, not others.

Some folks are quite open about it. Some sound defensive or argumentive about it. Some are almost apologetic.

Enough already. Everybody's had their chance to say it; everybody has said it, everybody has read it. And I agree with it.

So now, let's all get off that subject and back to real blogging.


Some mornings and some evenings Suzy and I get a chance to sit out on the porch of our casita and watch the world happen. A couple of evenings recently, we sat out as thunderstorms gradually moved our way. When they got a little close, we moved inside and watched through our front window. The oncoming storms will usually reduce the temperature by about 15 degrees, bringing it down to a very comfortable mid to high 80's.

In the mornings, it's delightful to watch the activity of a desert bunny or two, and several birds, all of whom want the birdseed we put out -- even the bunnies.

The birds have a real pecking order they insist on. Our smallest birds are the Black Throated Sparrows.
This is a male Black Throated Sparrow

Earlier in the year, the parents brought their young'uns to our yard, feeding them once in a while, but mainly teaching the youngsters how to get food from our three different feeders.

Now the same parents will come around, and if the young males show up at the same time, they get chased away. They have to find their own food, or at least come back when the bigger and older birds aren't there. The young females are never hassled.

The next group up in size are the House Finches. The males will chase the smaller males away, but any of the finches will also chase away any of the sparrows.

A male House Finch getting a seed fix.

The Silver Cardinals used to bring their young in the same way as the sparrows did. Now the younger ones get chased away. Cardinals also chase away the finches and the sparrows.

A male Silver Cardinal on the seed bell.

A young male Silver Cardinal in the backyard mesquite tree.

This young Silver Cardinal is getting a taste of the good life!

At the top of the pecking order are the Curve Billed Thrashers. They'll chase away any of the other birds to have the space all to themselves. Even when the thrasher is quite happy eating at ground level, if he sees someone else up on the bowl, he'll go up and chase them off.

Curve Bill Thrasher sounding off at the top of a dried up yucca bloom

Nobody bothers the bunnies, but they get scarce if they hear us moving about, or think we are getting too close.

We sometimes see some quail. We've even seen families with a dozen babies. For some reason, they don't chase anyone else away, and nobody bothers to chase them.

This year we haven't seen even one Road Runner. They don't bother with bird seed anyway. They like lizards and small snakes.

Back to the thrashers. They aren't coming around as much these days. I think they are mad at us because we didn't let them build a nest under the Mock Orange bushes in our planter box. For weeks, they would dig in there, tossing out the bark mulch and scattering it over the patio. I'd sweep it up and put it back in; next day it would be all over the ground again.

The final blow came the day I went outside and a male thrasher flew away from the back of the planter box. I saw more movement and peered closer until the female climbed out of her position under the cover of the shrubs and flew off. I placed some wire netting under the rear branches, and only a couple of times since have we seen bark scattered on the porch. And it seemed to be less of nest building and more of thumbing their noses at us.

This is the extent of the Thrashers' current activities.

[LATER IN THE DAY] Well, what the devil is going on? That blasted thrasher has just thrashed our planter box again, and did a pretty good job of it!

This is how the planter box is SUPPOSED to look.

This is how it looked after the thrasher got done this afternoon!

The guantlet is thrown! It's full-scale warfare. After all, who the heck is in charge during ... Our Life on Wheels?


  1. You tell the pecking order story well, Jerry. Great photos of all the birds!

  2. OMGosh..what a mess they make..I think I too would be figuring something out..a fake snake maybe?

    Cindy and Walker

  3. What beautiful pics of those birds today. Too bad those thrashers were "trashers" on your planter.

    I'm waiting to see who will end up in charge here! :)

  4. It was interesting reading about the pecking order and seeing actual pictures of each. By the way we enjoy your comments on our blog - www.johnandaileen.blogspot.com

  5. Love the bird pictures and the story about all oiut war with the thrasher's

  6. Great post, Jerry and funny too, except for the thrashers trashing your planters of course. It must have taken a lot of patience to get all the photos of those different birds in that "pecking order".

    Now, as for what I'll call your "mini-rant", folks are going to blog and talk about what they want to including comments and followers etc. It's a big part of blogging and I don't mind this conversation at all. As you suggest, it will probably go away for awhile - but, it will be back.

    That's ok with me as once in a while, amazingly, I hear something new about this subject.

  7. I love Roadrunners in my camp area...I encourage them because they eat snakes. We had trouble in Falcon Lake with the Orioles pecking at our truck mirrors, so we put WalMart bags on each one with a clothespin. They can really scratch up a mirror ...those dirty birds!!
    Great Pictures of the birds in your area..

  8. Great bird pics, Jerry. I sent a link to this blog to a bird-loving friend of mine. Glad you get so much enjoyment from your fine-feathered friends, even though the planter gets 'thrashed!'

  9. Hi Jerry, just wanted to tell you that I finally had a minute to stop by.....good reading your opinion's. Sorry I been so busy, but it is God's will...

  10. I love birds, so i enjoyed your post today. Why were the thrashers not allowed to build a nest there? Just wondering!



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