North Carolina Table Manners

Sitting at the kitchen table tapping away on my wee netbook. The bird table outside was a constant pour of visitors. The dynamics were intriguing and I really could have sat there and watched for hours, if I had had the hours to spare.

Three species of sparrow -Chipping sparrow, White-throated sparrow, and Song sparrow – along with a Carolina wren, American goldfinches, and Dark-eyed juncos were the most regular. They were the smallest people and seemed to tolerate each other just fine. Northern cardinals joined the feeding frequently, and did not not seem to put the others off, even though they are larger (and exceedingly colourful!). And Eastern towhees popped along occasionally.

One Northern mockingbird was all it took to cause an all out flee. Most were too nervous to re-approach whilst the mockingbird lingered. The towhee was the only one I saw gutsy enough to nip in and steal a few seeds. The mockingbird chased him off. Upon mockingbird departure however, a male cardinal was always the first to return to the table.chipping sparrow 02
Chipping sparrow.
wt sparrow 1WT sparrow 1
White-throated sparrow,
song sparrow 5
Song sparrow.
wren 1
Carolina wren.
AG finchcardinal 2grackle 01 American goldfinch. Northern cardinal, Grackle.

Here continued the pecking order … if a grackle approached the bird table, the mockingbird made a hasty exit.  

A flock of Brown-headed cowbirds hung around the garden for a while. The males striking with their glossy feathers. Within their flock was a pair of Red-winged blackbirds. I guessed that somehow this pair lost their own flock, and as flocking is their winter survival strategy, joining the cowbirds was the next best thing. I never witnessed any aggression by the cowbirds, but when they approached the table the sheer number of them was enough to wary off all of the little people. All except flashy Mr cardinal of course!

cowbird 02cowbird 03Brown-headed cowbird.

Then there were the really really large people – the peafowl! Well if I was sparrow-sized, I’d be the first to leave!


About Olivia N Masi

From art college drop-out, to office space-planner, to back-packer, to air stewardess, to brolly babe, to model agent, to wildlife conservationist. How? I've always believed in jumping at every opportunity that comes my way. This has taken me along some bizarre career paths. None of which I regret. I have been to amazing places and met fascinating people. And having worked in the motor sport industry I've sadly experienced too many beloved friends take one adrenalin step too many. I think of them always. I've hung out with pop-stars, sports personalities, and millionaires. I reached a point when nothing but VIP would do. And then something happened. My pops passed away and I felt the need to reconnect with my Italian side. Whilst in Italy, I learnt to be resourceful, to recycle everything, to listen to the valley, to grow my own veg, to catch and tame feral cats, and to follow my heart. My heart led me to a desire to save this beautiful Earth, and all the wonderful life upon it. And so I read, and then I studied with the Open University. I suddenly found myself accepted on a BSc in Wildlife Conservation, having left school with pitiful qualifications. So here I am. A qualified Wildlife Conservationist. A scientist I suppose. I love nothing more than to listen to birdsong, and watch, learn and photograph wildlife. So here is to me getting the perfect job where I can contribute to saving one of Earth's beautiful species. Do I miss the glamour of the old life? The VIP lifestyle? The petrol-head adrenalin? The buzz of being a successful business owner? Only occasionally. Though it seems more like the distant dreams of a previous life.
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