Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The phrase birds of a feather flock together is generally used to describe people who have similar characteristics or interests, often ones of which others disapprove of, who spend time together. This phrase could not be more accurate for the description of blackbirds flocking. During this time of year, as we come into fall migration, it is a common sight to see large groups of blackbirds flocking together. If you take a closer look you will notice that they are not necessarily all the same species, we often see Grackles and Red-Winged Blackbirds together. 

A flock of Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds

The question is.. why?

Anyone who has stumbled too close to a Red-Winged Blackbird territory in the spring knows that they usually are not up for company. So, why the change of heart? 

They have common interests, food and protection. They congregate together to find food in warm and secure locations. The chance that any single bird will become prey while in a large flock, is also significantly lower. With lots of information sharing of food sources, it is more efficient, and in the best interest of all the birds to participate in this flocking behaviour. As for how they do it, there is still a lot that we don't know. It is quite magnificent seeing such a large group of birds moving together without struggle. Audobon has a great article on this subject that you can read here. 

Understandably, having an entire flock show up in your yard and take to your feeders can be frustrating and deplete seed much quicker than you're used to. The good news is, we have solutions. The three best ways to make your feeders unattractive or inaccessible to blackbirds are: 

1) Exclude them: we have a range of cages for feeders, that most blackbirds are unable to get through but smaller birds can go through and feed with ease, including WBU Tube Feeder cages and WBU Seed Cylinder Cages 

2) Slow Them Down: some feeders they can access, but they pose enough of a challenge that it is unlikely for them to take over such as the WBU Eliminator 

3) Offer Foods with Less Appeal- switching to safflower seed and cylinders are a great option during this time of year. 

Female Rose-Breasted Grosbeak enjoying a Safflower Cylinder

You can read our full page about combatting this issue here. 

Happy Fall Birding!! 



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